Being the employer of choice - reward in integrated care systems

Max Liversuch

Max Liversuch is a programme manager in the reward team at NHS Employers. In this blog, he explores the importance of reward in integrated care systems, and being the employer of choice.  

Innovation has driven the development of reward in the NHS, inspired by changing operational circumstances and the needs and emphasis of staff. In a thought-provoking session at our recent reward event, Sheena Cumiskey, chief executive of Cheshire and Wirral partnership NHS Foundation Trust, encouraged attendees to look forward to the new challenge of designing appropriate and motivational reward in the context of local integrated, community-owned, healthcare systems.

Planning for these developments will require us to think about how we can work more closely with local authorities, engage and motivate local communities, and to develop and enable the effective and skilled system leadership of diverse teams with a wide variety of skills. The focus will be around fostering and nurturing good relationships with a wide variety of partners and stakeholders.

This is a complex set of challenges, yet we will need to be guided by the oldest and most profoundly important premise: it is all about people. Relationships and what motivates people are crucial to patient care. Therefore, if we are to succeed in delivering new systems of care, we must recognise and reward what matters to people (both those giving and receiving care).

Integrated systems give us new opportunities to offer career development and progression. Placements in a variety of health and care settings can broaden experience and open career choices, encouraging talented people to stay in systems which challenge and extend their capabilities. Apprenticeships also offer us the opportunity to grow and nurture talent. Furthermore, across the NHS, employers are developing responsive reward packages, evaluating their impact and redesigning their offering to meet the changing needs and aspirations of their staff.

This work can be bolstered by developing a common purpose across individual systems that aligns with the competence and values of staff and which drives their day-to-day behaviours. Each person has a unique contribution to make, so we must provide opportunities for employees to connect, celebrate their individual and collective achievements and recognise that the health and care systems in which they work are community-based and community-owned.

A sense of place provides a profoundly important foundation for individual and community identity. In integrated healthcare systems it can be this sense of identity that binds colleagues together and supports mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. Leadership in these systems must provide clarity on what contribution each person can make to the common purpose. Furthermore, that purpose must have its roots in the needs of the community which owns and uses services. Leaders in integrated systems will need to motivate communities to provide support and this can be done through employment or volunteering, or any other means which engenders a sense of the value of the NHS as a community resource. Staff need relevant information and appropriate equipment to do their jobs well, yet they must also be given the time and permission to use their competence to the maximum for the benefit of patients and the communities they serve.

We are performing a balancing act. On one hand is change – technological, operational, organisational - and on the other, the foundations on which compassionate and effective healthcare is built. Tangible rewards such as discount schemes will continue to play their part, yet staff will respond best to opportunities to continuously acquire and develop the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to do a great job. One of the greatest rewards we can give staff, patients and the communities they serve is to support their efforts to be the best they can be.

Diagram, entitled "(Trust) Relationships" showing a triangle with the three points labelled "Common Purpose", "Contribution" and "Connection"

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