Improving staff appraisals

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Amy Davidson, health and wellbeing coordinator at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, shares how the trust's new appraisal framework has made staff feel supported in the workplace.

Our latest staff survey told us that our staff don’t always feel supported and involved in conversations about what is happening at work. 

This naturally concerned us – we want our staff to feel that they are valued, appreciated and have a voice.

We felt that a key approach to changing attitudes would be to have more regular conversations with our staff and developed a new appraisal framework to underpin this approach.

This would enable staff to have regular conversations about professional and personal development, health and wellbeing support, opportunities for two-way feedback, and timely performance appraisals.

Under the existing process, staff had a yearly appraisal, but this clearly wasn’t working – even down to the name. So, we changed it to Quarterly TALKS.

TALKS is used as the framework for the conversation and stands for:

  • Talent – performance, values, behaviours, career.
  • Appreciation – glimpse of brilliance, appreciation of self and work of others.
  • Learning and development – current needs to meet objectives and grow skills, mandatory training.
  • Kaizen – continuous small service improvements.
  • Support – wellbeing, working arrangements, leave. 

The approach is simple: everyone should have a minimum of four TALKS per year (one per quarter) with their reviewer/manager. One of these TALKS happens during the appraisal window and is recorded on ESR.

If staff already have regular performance and wellbeing conversations, great, we encourage teams to keep doing it. We just suggest that teams make four of these quarterly TALKS. 

The TALKS are values based which means they include a values and behaviours conversation allowing for reflection on how we demonstrate these in the workplace. The mental and physical health of staff also feature heavily in our approach.

If a colleague has any wellbeing concerns, we ask them to raise these with their line manager. They will then be helped to access support services either by manager referral to occupational health or by encouraging self-referral to our support services, on-site counselling or their own GP/ external support services. 

While this approach is still quite new, we're confident that this will allow line managers and teams to get to know each other better and work more collaboratively, which encourages staff to supported and valued in our organisation.

For more information on this new approach contact


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