Opinion

Best Employer case study: Arthur Rank Hospice Charity

Involving employees in the future direction of your organisation is no easy task. You have to overcome barriers such as figuring out how to spark interest so your staff not only listen, but also help you make your ideas reality. Yet, the Arthur Rank Hospice Charity (ARHC) is doing this with great success.

Winning the 2012 Best Employer award for Vision and Motivation, the charity has proven that its strategy to bring people together as a team, and instill a clear understanding of the organisation’s direction, is working. In fact, it is likely to be a contributing factor to its incredibly low 6% staff turnover.

As a well-known local charity, which many people rely on to provide excellent care, it is vital that the charity continues to achieve its mission. The hospice’s CEO, Dr Lynn Morgan, recognises that the employees and volunteers are the driving force behind much of the hospice’s day-to-day work. So it makes sense to keep them engaged, supported and happy.

Dr Morgan talks to Pure about what the award-win meant to the charity, and how she achieves high standards in engagement.

Assessing staff opinion in times of change

Nearly all of ARHC’s staff responded to the 2012 survey, giving a strong indication that they were already motivated enough to get involved, and understood the reasons of the survey.

Dr Morgan explains that the survey was useful in gathering employee opinion during a time of organisational change. She says: “We are going through a period of significant change. Not only are we building new premises, but we also plan to become responsible for the whole spectrum of care in the hospice, and end of life care in the community by transferring in NHS staff instead of simply commissioning some of the services, as we do at the moment.  It is important that the teams merge together effectively and, therefore, we are very pleased that our staff are so enthusiastic about the future.

“Although these changes are ultimately beneficial for the staff, patients and families, their success will not be possible without our team responding well to the challenges.”

She adds: “Getting the award for Vision and Motivation was confirmation that our staff really believed in the organisation’s future, and understood why we were making changes. When we won the award everyone here felt very proud.”

The winning strategy

Dr Morgan’s approach to engagement is based on transformational management, which is positive, proactive and encouraging. Its principles involve explaining the reasons for change, inspiring people to work towards a common goal, and clearly communicating the long-term vision.

She says: “Staff understand why we have the aims and objectives that we have, and have been part of setting them.  Everyone is focused on delivering the best service we can for patients and their families; employees relish their part in ensuring this happens. If something doesn’t go quite right, we look at what went wrong and why, but we don’t ascribe blame. This encourages people to be creative.”

In addition, ARHC offers flexible working, holds monthly all-team meetings.  There are regular meetings with the volunteers to keep them up to date with the progress of plans and to gain their feedback and regular consultation with staff, patients, and other stakeholders on every step of the journey towards the new hospice.  The final plans reflect the input and needs of our whole community.

Added responsibility

You may think that people wouldn’t need to be engaged if they choose to work for a charity. However, Dr Morgan believes that being a not-for-profit organisation is a reason in itself to be more proactive when it comes to engagement.

She explains: “People work for a charity because they believe in its aims.  To achieve those aims they tend to work very hard, and this often means working unsocial hours.  Therefore, it is all the more important that the staff get job satisfaction and understand how much they are valued.  Being a good employer also creates a culture of good team work, because it doesn’t enable an atmosphere which is competitive or divisive.”

Advice on boosting engagement

Dr Morgan’s experience is invaluable to Best Employer newcomers and repeat participants alike. Her one piece of advice to other employers for keeping staff engaged is simple, yet effective: “Meet regularly with your staff to encourage them to come forward with ideas and solutions, and respect their knowledge and ideas, and make it clear that you are receptive to hearing any ideas or feedback. No one should ever regret having the courage to speak up.”

If you’d like to get involved in the Best Employer survey, talk to Pure’s Marketing Manager, Anna Hill, on: 01223 209888 or Anna.Hill@prs.uk.com.