What we learned from Reward in the NHS 2019

Rachel Bickerdike

Rachel Bickerdike, programme manager in the pension and reward team at NHS Employers, shares her reflections from the day and the highlights from the 2019 event.

The theme for this year’s reward event was the future of reward. It seemed timely to consider how to motivate the workforce following the commitments to support NHS staff in the NHS Long Term Plan and subsequent Interim People Plan. 81 per cent of attendees at Reward in the NHS 2019 said they thought that the existing NHS employment offer is not fit for purpose. The day was an opportunity to consider how we all move forward to make the NHS a better place to work. Here are my conclusions from the event about how we might start to make that happen.

Inspiring leadership

Liesje Turner, assistant director of strategic recruitment at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, kicked off the day sharing how the trust improved its staff survey engagement scores through a culture of reward and recognition. She told delegates that staff now want to do their jobs better because they don’t want to let each other down – they are all in it together, communicated from the senior leadership team. The take away lesson from the session was: look after your staff and they will do the same for patients.

Investing in relationships

With the development of integrated care systems and partnership working, a new way of rewarding and motivating staff will be required. Sheena Cumiskey from Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust talked about strong leadership across these new systems to promote a sense of belonging. Relationships and what motivates people are crucial to patient care, so we must recognise and reward what matters to people. With a wide variety of partners and stakeholders, the focus will be on fostering and nurturing good relationships and recognising the contribution each person has to offer towards the common purpose.

Introducing financial wellbeing support

Our event sponsor Salary Finance shocked the audience with its statistics on the impact of financial stress. It surprised me how many people say they don’t earn enough to cover all their monthly outgoings, even for higher earners, and don’t have money put aside for a rainy day. Alison Balson told us how Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust overcame the taboo of talking about financial health, and the impact this has had on staff.  One staff member managed to go on holiday for the first time in years because of the tools available that helped her to manage her money.

Intercommunicate with staff

During the day we asked delegates to share their most effective ways of communicating reward. Top themes included:

  • staff intranet
  • emails
  • Twitter
  • face-to-face
  • word of mouth.

Ian Hodson and Rosie Damarell from the University of Lincoln joined us to share its reward strategy from the education sector and how the university created a modern online benefits platform to communicate the reward offer in an engaging way. 

The NHS Pension Scheme has had a lot of attention recently, and First Actuarial lead a great session which encouraged employers to consider how they promote the benefits of the pension scheme. The pension is a key part of the reward package, but many staff don’t understand how good it is.

Involving staff

We heard how GOSH Charity used non-financial elements of recognition and staff development to engage staff. Tanya Whitehead shared how it has developed a culture of inclusion and investment in staff which has resulted in improved motivation.

We learned that most trusts don’t feel their current reward elements meet organisational strategic objectives, but that there is support available to start using reward strategically. The workshop session revealed that only half of the organisations that came on the day seek feedback from staff on reward offers.

Ultimately, it’s all about the people. Invest, nurture, develop and recognise staff and involve them in the process of change. It’s a positive outlook for the future of the NHS workforce and it isn’t rocket science – support your staff to be the best that they can be.

To see more about Reward in the NHS 2019, visit the event webpage.


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