October’s episode saw Alex sit down with James Donald, Associate Director of Communications at University Hospitals Dorset NHS Trust. James discussed how the newly-formed trust have taken steps to engage 9,500+ employees, whilst pivoting their internal communications strategy in light of the pandemic. You can catch up on the recording here, or read on to learn 8 ways the NHS is embracing the new normal.
SUPPORTING YOUR STAFF
- Allow flexibility – flexibility is key, especially if your team is constantly adapting to changing conditions or surroundings. Whether it’s coping with the pandemic, unpredictable workloads or a change in strategy, encouraging flexibility within your team will help them adjust to big changes.
- Celebrate well-being – employee well-being has been in the spotlight this year, and making it a key pillar of your internal communications strategy is vital. Your team should know what support is available and how to access it whatever their role and wherever their location.
“One of the things at the forefront [of our intranet] is staff support. That’s one of the things staff can find most easily, so they know where to go to. We want to show staff that they are supported.”
COLLABORATION IS KEY
- Make use of Teams – it’s easy for departments to become siloed, particularly with remote working. Tools like Teams are great for encouraging multi-team meetings and collaborations, especially when physical meetings aren’t possible. Online chat tools are also perfect for developing support networks – Teams has helped the NHS develop online networks for BAME and EU employees.
Fact – Since introducing Teams in March, more than 65 million messages have been sent by NHS employees.
- Create breakout groups – breakout groups are great for encouraging employee conversation, gathering feedback, discussing challenges and understanding team needs. It’s important that employees feel their voice is being heard, especially without face-to-face time with their managers.
- Encourage informal chats – online meetings can also help replicate informal ‘coffee break’ style chats to encourage new learnings and friendship. Working from home can be a lonely experience for some, so creating online spaces for friendly conversation can be a big help.
“Teams has been fantastic. I don’t know how we would have managed the whole operations of the hospital if we weren’t able to meet in such a way.”
CHANGE THE CHANNEL
- Challenge the norm – if you work in communications, it’s easy to use tried and tested methods to push messages to the team. Learn to feel comfortable with challenging the norm, and using new channels or methods to achieve the desired – or better – outcomes.
- Embrace the power of mobile – communicating with your team via mobile apps can’t be underestimated. Whilst some staff may not have computer access, they’ll almost certainly have mobile access.
Tip – if you’re using mobile apps to communicate with your team, remember to encourage boundaries between work and personal life. Features like ‘Quiet Time’ on Teams is a great way to do this.
- Change champions – selecting key people to push out and advocate new technology changes across the business can be very powerful. Identify your key tech influencers and use them to help push uptake and adoption.