Case Study

The Big Thank You at King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Read how extensive staff engagement formed the basis of an award-winning recruitment campaign.

4 November 2021

King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (KCH) partnered with a recruitment agency to create an award-winning recruitment campaign built on extensive staff engagement.

Key benefits and outcomes

  • The trust has won two recruitment awards.
  • Increased traffic to the trust's website.
  • The trust increased its nursing establishment by 120 between April and September 2021.
  • Staff felt valued and the engagement campaign boosted morale.

What the organisation faced

The trust’s recruitment material needed a refresh, so the organisation engaged with staff through focus groups, to understand further what made people want to work at KCH. Through these groups, the trust identified a feeling of pride in the teams, wards and sites people worked in.

KCH wanted the strong sense of unity and loyalty staff felt to their immediate peers to be replicated and shared across all trust sites. The trust wanted to build a stronger sense of ‘Team King’s’ to encourage advocacy of an authentic attraction message which would aid its recruitment.

The trust therefore embarked upon a two-phase process which started with widescale internal recognition and engagement of and with staff in phase one, and, in phase two, a recruitment campaign built on the outcomes of the first phase.

What the organisation did

Having identified that the people are what make KCH, the HR team and a recruitment agency engaged with managers across the trust and asked them who had been the stars of their teams, and what were the great things they had done. Managers responded and wrote short, glowing quotes of the highly-valued work their stars had done.

The HR team obtained permission from identified stars for the agency to take photos and use them as part of a promotional campaign which the trust coined The Big Thank You. 166 participants from a range of clinical and non-clinical roles were photographed and filmed for the campaign. They spoke of their pride in working for the trust and the impact The Big Thank You had on them. This can be seen in this short video.

The testimonials from managers and photos of staff created the branding for The Big Thank You and illustrated KCH’s promise of a place to work, develop and thrive. 300 pieces of artwork were developed, and 18 installations of the art were raised across the trust’s main sites.

The promotional photos and videos were made suitable for use on social media. Staff shared these widely which helped create a buzz around King’s in physical and virtual spaces.

The imagery of The Big Thank You was then used as part of a recruitment campaign which targeted nurses and healthcare support assistants. The campaign materials were posted on the London Underground, at bus stops, via social media and on the trust’s recruitment landing page. The intended impact of this was to show potential recruits that KCH is a positive place to work, where staff are valued.

Results and benefits

The success of the trust’s campaign can be seen in the number of clicks through to its recruitment landing page, the number of applications processed and the fact that it has increased its nursing establishment.

There have been 43,804 clicks from nine media channels through to King’s recruitment landing page since the campaign was launched. These have mostly come through from, Google Display Network and Facebook.

Between April 2021 and September 2021, the trust increased its nursing establishment by 120 as the campaign helped bridge between what candidates thought of the trust and what their own staff said of their experiences.

The trust has also won two external awards for the work. It won the RAD award for employee engagement, beating several private sector companies in the process, and the 2021 Recruitment Marketing Award for internal communications.

Overcoming obstacles

The style of the promotional material caused some disagreements as it was not typical of a standard NHS campaign. However, this was overcome by having strong advocates to the project; the chief executive , chief nurse and site chief executives were all supportive of the planned approach.

The trust needed to plan for the unfortunate event of the materials being defaced or damaged. Discussions with estates and facilities were important to mitigate against this threat and materials that could be easily cleaned were used.

Takeaway tips

  • Be bold, and different. KCH’s campaign stood out and was successful because it was ambitious.
  • Collaborate with other parts of your organisation and bring them with you. The HR team engaged with other parts of the organisation throughout the project. This allowed the team to address concerns and detect obstacles they had to work around. By doing so, the team was able to get buy-in from across the organisation which ultimately made it easier to deliver the project.
  • Showcase the diversity of your organisation. KCH’s ensured its materials were reflective of all staff and the communities it serves - this gave those communities more faith in the trust.

Further information

For further information on this case study please contact Peter Absalom, associate director: workforce operations, King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust via