One of the key factors affecting whether we feel engaged at work is the degree to which we feel valued and recognised by the organisation we work for and the people we work with.
Recognising staff for their work can take many forms; from a thank-you card or email from the chief executive, to an item in the staff newsletter, right through to a formal awards ceremony delivered in partnership with other trusts.
Below are some key things to think about that can help to create a supportive culture that recognises and engages staff, sustains morale during periods of greater pressure and in turn helps to reduce turnover.
Engaging across the workforce
It is important to ask staff what matters to them in terms of being recognised and feeling valued for their work. Preferences in how staff like to be recognised can be specific to individuals - a photo in the staff newsletter might be appreciated by some, but not by others. Setting up focus groups and working alongside members of your staff forum (if one exists) could help to shape an approach to recognition that is aligned with how your staff want to be valued. Letting employees choose how they are recognised can help with engagement and add to the feeling of being valued.
Speaking to long-serving members of staff can help to understand what is important to them in terms of recognition. These staff may also be able to provide more general insights into what is important to them as employees and what staff are ideally looking for in an employer.
Values and strategic priorities
Many of the recognition schemes that exist across the NHS link rewarding behaviours to the values of the organisation. These values are often based on those in the NHS Constitution, such as compassionate care and responsiveness. Examples based around values and behaviours could include:
- recognition for making a positive difference
- recognition for excellence in service improvement
- recognition for going beyond expectations
- recognition for exemplary provision of care.
Implementing schemes that reflect organisational strategic priorities, and recognise staff in the way they prefer, could be a means of promoting a more consistent dialogue and ensuring all parts of your organisation are working towards a set of shared goals.
Involvement from the top
Delivering culture change through senior leadership behaviour is essential to improve the engagement of ambulance service employees. Implementing more regular contact from senior leaders presents opportunities for valuing and recognising good work. Regular visits to ambulance stations and other workplaces and making use of email bulletins, blogs, newsletters and social media are some of the ways that senior leaders can become more present among the workforce.
Given the geographically widespread nature of the ambulance workforce, it’s important to consider the most appropriate and effective communication channels to reach all of your workforce. Electronic communication channels can provide opportunities to recognise the achievements of staff who are dispersed across a wide area, however, with the emphasis on team working for improving levels of staff engagement, face-to-face communication is important wherever possible.
Potential channels for promoting initiatives could include:
- trust newsletters
- managers’ newsletters
- total reward statement local benefit pages
- social media
- use of local press to promote good news stories.
Use of social media is becoming more widespread across the workforce and a number of trusts are currently trialling the use of mobile apps for communicating with staff. A good example is outlined in this case study from North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust. If your organisation is looking to develop a strategy to improve your use of social media, you may find our resource, HR and social media in the NHS, helpful.
Managers will be pivotal in raising awareness on a wider scale. Time should be taken to communicate your plans clearly with managers, to ensure that your whole workforce is familiar with how you recognise staff
There is a lot of recent research on the importance of line managers in supporting staff to feel valued. It has been identified that many line managers arrive in positions of seniority due to being good at their operational roles, but may lack sufficient capability and training to perform well in a management capacity.
A crucial element of a line manager’s role is to ensure that staff are given an effective appraisal; a factor which has been shown to correlate positively with levels of staff engagement. Giving line managers appropriate tools, education and development will enable them to lead effectively and give regular feedback to their staff, which should also include efforts to recognise and reward good performance. Take a look at our top tips for managers in the resources section for more advice.
A lack of feeling part of a team has been identified as a key factor in determining low levels of value and recognition within the ambulance service, so the ability to recognise teamwork is particularly important.
Efforts to improve the frequency of team meetings or contact time could be linked to informal ways of recognising your staff by setting aside time to celebrate success and say thank you to one another. Improving the frequency of team time also provides the opportunity to discuss challenges and seek to improve ways of working.
In addition to recognising the work of teams and individuals, it is important that organisational success is shared and celebrated across the whole workforce. For example, positive recognition during Care Quality Commission inspections. This type of success is the result of a collaborative effort by all members of your organisation and it’s important that employees are thanked for their efforts in delivering care of the highest standard.
Including the whole workforce is a key element to any approach to recognition and reward. The achievements of frontline workers are only possible because of the support they receive from others.
Working in partnership with trade unions
Given the high levels of trade union membership among ambulance service employees, promoting a culture of partnership working could help you to support employee value and recognition. Working in partnership with trade unions will help you engage with a wide audience and secure a commitment through your trust’s partnership forum and at a national level through the National Ambulance Strategic Partnership Forum (NASPF).
Any recognition initiatives will also need to be evaluated, to ensure they are effective or identify any lessons learned. Find more information on how to evaluate your reward approach.
- Don’t make it too complicated – find quick and simple ways to recognise what your colleagues have achieved and show that you value their contribution.
- Never underestimate the impact of saying thank you.
- Understand your budget and the limitations this may bring - work with sponsors to help spread the costs if necessary.
- Tailor initiatives to how your workforce wants to be recognised.
|Learning from other NHS organisations
||Read examples of good practice from other NHS trusts.
|Learning from other sectors
||Examples of good practice from the fire and police services.
|Top tips for managers
||Helpful hints and advice for managers when considering recognition within their teams.
|Top tips for individuals
||Information and advice for individuals approach to recognition and reward in the ambulance service.