NHS Employers

The role of line managers and total reward

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Line managers play an important role in communicating your organisations reward benefits to staff as well as helping to develop your reward strategy. It is important that line managers are supported with the tools and resources they need to communicate your reward offer to staff effectively.

Communicating your reward package to employees can benefit your organisation by helping to improve employee engagement, increase retention and reinforce your organisational values.   Feedback from our Total Reward Engagement Network indicates that more support is needed for employers to educate line managers effectively on how to communicate reward and support their teams.   

Ways you can involve line managers in your reward package:

  • Stress the importance of annual appraisal and having regular conversations with staff to ensure that they feel supported.
  • Provide them with tools and resources they need to do their job.
  • Offer training on the importance of communicating your reward offer to staff, people management and how to have difficult conversations.
  • Ask for frequent feedback from line managers on what they think is attractive to staff.
  • Regularly review the reward package and update it to meet the evolving needs of staff.

Annual appraisal

Annual appraisal is a key part of the NHS reward offer. Line managers need to be supported and should have regular appraisals so that they can be confident in doing their job and managing their teams. Through the appraisal process any training requirements can be identified.

Line managers should be provided adequate training to enable them to:

  • manage staff
  • develop communication skills
  • deal with difficult conversations
  • develop decision-making skills.

By properly appraising and training your line managers they will be able to conduct effective appraisals with their teams.

Line managers have an important role to play in employees’ motivation, engagement and satisfaction with their employer and their jobs. Providing feedback on a regular basis will strengthen the relationship between the manager and their team members. Providing feedback to staff and supporting their development improves staff experience and will improve patient outcomes.

Staff health and wellbeing 

Your organisation should have a robust and diverse reward offer on health and wellbeing that will reflect the diversity and needs of staff that work in your organisation. Line managers are a useful resource to communicate health and wellbeing to staff and they can use health and wellbeing resources to guide and support them. Line managers should have regular one to ones with their staff to establish their needs to improve their experience both in work and outside of work.

One of the recommendations in the Boorman Review describes the importance of prioritising staff health and wellbeing within the NHS: “We recommend that all NHS leaders and managers are developed and equipped to recognise the link between staff health and wellbeing and organisational performance, and that their actions are judged in terms of whether they contribute to or undermine staff health and wellbeing.”

Line managers are ideally placed to spot the early signs of stress and other potential mental health issues in staff. Ensuring that line managers are supported and that they understand their responsibilities when assisting staff with health and wellbeing is key to providing a positive staff experience. Staff who are effectively line managed and experience a positive health and wellbeing at work, provide better patient care, and are more likely to stay in the organisation.

We have created a range of ways you can support your line managers to improve staff experience in their teams by accessing our line manager hub.

Line managers can support the health and wellbeing of their staff by:

  • regularly checking in with staff and identifying and talking to those who are experiencing stress, have poor mental health
  • communicating the range of resources and guidance we have created that is available to them.

    Some helpful resources:

    • A report that outlines the link between staff experience and patient outcomes. It provides evidence to show that the support received from a line manager effects care, patient satisfaction, health outcomes, absenteeism and turnover. This will demonstrate how important it is for a line manager to have a good relationship with their team.
    • The financial wellbeing guide and infographic will provide line managers with a four-step approach on how to implement a successful financial wellbeing strategy in your organisation and how to support staff with positive interventions.

Further resources:

We also have a range of products and guidance on our reward resources page. Your feedback is very important to us, so please tell us what you think about our products and resources by emailing reward@nhsemployers.org

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