Healthcare at Home
How Healthcare at Home used an effective internal comms programme to deliver impressive change
Head of Organisational Development
Founded in 1992, the company is based around one simple principle: the patient comes first. For Healthcare at Home, that means providing the care people need in the place they most want to be – their own home. So, the company’s dedicated team works with pharmaceutical companies and health systems to deliver exceptional care outside of hospital for acute and long-term conditions.
It’s a model that really works for patients, and it’s seen Healthcare at Home go from strength to strength, growing steadily throughout its first 20 years. But every business faces tough times, and for Healthcare at Home, 2013-14 brought some major challenges. Despite being market leaders, the company needed a more robust, commercially effective business plan. They were becoming overloaded by change, which was causing damage to their reputation and team morale.
To recover from such a challenging year, Healthcare at Home made restoring the confidence of its people a key strategic objective. To fully understand what colleagues were feeling, and what they wanted from their company, they decided to conduct an in-depth staff survey.
The company brought People Insight on board to help diagnose specific engagement issues and strengthen employees’ resolve. The results shaped their strategy, strengthened their team and led to a positive ongoing partnership.
The Action Stamp is put on anything that’s changed as a result of the survey to show visually how people’s input has been followed up on.
Carrying out a staff survey when your business is at the top of its game is pretty straightforward. Finding out what your people really think of you when times are tough is another matter altogether.
The first challenge was to get people involved. Healthcare at Home had conducted a survey around five years earlier but the results hadn’t been effectively shared, so, people had to see that things would be more transparent. People were sceptical about whether anything would be done with the results, so showing that the Leadership Team would listen and act on staff suggestions was vital.
Ahead of the survey launch, Healthcare at Home began by drumming up interest to make sure as many people as possible got involved. This included running a competition which asked colleagues to come up with a strong name for the survey. The winning entry gave it a positive title: Your Opinion, Our Future.
Building on this, there was a great deal of pre-launch campaign work, including manager briefings, desktop wallpapers and poster campaigns to promote the importance of taking part. Once the survey launched, colleagues also received regular email updates that gave a running total of how many people had filled in the survey. Senior managers got involved too, encouraging their teams to have a say in the company’s future.
Once the results were in, it was vital that everyone understood them, and knew what was going to happen next.
The Internal Communications Team developed engaging infographics to present the key information, making it easy to digest and giving it a strong identity.
Kim Greenhill, Healthcare at Home’s Head of Organisational Development, explains: “We had a very new Leadership Team – many colleagues hadn’t even met them – so we decided to create animated characters to give each of them a softer, more approachable identity. They looked fantastic and it was very well received.”
Just as Healthcare at Home anticipated, not all of the survey results were as good as they should have been verses the external benchmarks. Seizing the initiative, the company embraced its findings, acted on colleagues’ suggestions and used the survey as the basis for innovative changes.
This included narrowing the gap between the leadership team and colleagues on the ground delivering care. As Kim says:
She continues: “We held focused feedback sessions with the Leadership and Senior Management teams to make sure everyone understood the feedback and what they needed to do to drive improvements. This was followed by cascades through all departments so everyone knew how things would improve.
“Together with colleagues, we developed our Action Plan, using the same look and feel as the results infographic. We worked hard to understand the true local meaning of the results and translate them into realistic, manageable actions.”
Kim continues: “We put the Chief Executive Officer and the entire Leadership Team up in front of all the staff and had a full and frank question-and-answer session at our first-ever all-staff conference in January 2015 – called Vision 2020.
“It was incredible, and the first time in the company’s history that we’d brought everyone together. Yes, it was a risk running an open mic in a room of over 400 people, over three days, and there were some corking questions, but everyone got a straight answer – and that was priceless. It was inspiring to see such a strong, united Leadership Team in action, being honest and frank however difficult the question.”
It was always going to be vital to show that real action was being taken as a result of colleagues’ feedback. So, the Healthcare at Home team developed an Action Taken stamp which they put on anything that changed as a result of the survey or Q&A session.
It showed people across the business that their input was being followed up on and was leading directly to positive change.
Kim was delighted that staff embraced the communication plan developed around the results: “It’s been a really significant piece of communication because it’s truly shaped how we operate as a business,” she says. “Of course we had to educate and encourage people, and remind them of the benefits, but as soon as they engaged and saw the results, it was such a positive experience.
“The strategy has been shared with everyone, so there’s a collective understanding of where the business is going. I can’t tell you how groundbreaking that is. In the past it had been easy to get distracted from the business plan. Now, if it’s not on the plan, we don’t do it.”
Part of making positive progress was making everyone in the business accountable for change. The People Insight survey helped Healthcare at Home introduce a whole range of goals and activities to drive this.
The business now has four powerful strategic objectives, shaped by all of its staff. They also have quarterly briefings where every department feeds back on the progress of key initiatives, including the commitments made to their people in post-survey action plans.
Kim says: “In our new and evolving culture people are right at the heart of our strategic plans – it’s too important to let things slip. The action plans we made on the back of the survey were very tailored and were a commitment by leaders right across the business. We’ve been working with these plans for more than a year now and we all understand that to build greater trust and engagement we have to keep on fulfilling our promises and listening to our colleagues.”
The company has also introduced a staff yearbook to remind colleagues of all the achievements made since the 2014 survey.
A number of great projects have happened, so it’s designed to make people reflect on progress and really feel proud of what they’ve achieved together.
Finally, targeted manager training and regular pulse surveys have been put in place to take frequent temperature checks of team morale and address issues quickly.
Following their first survey with People Insight, Healthcare at Home maintained their focus on improving engagement. Looking ahead, they wanted better results across the board next time.
“The results of the 2014 survey were pretty decent considering the year we’d had, but that wasn’t good enough for us,” Kim says. “We’re the market leaders and people should be looking to us to set the standard. We compare ourselves to both general and healthcare-specific benchmarks and we want to become best in class by 2020.”
Building on their successful partnership, Healthcare at Home asked People Insight to work with them on a new survey for 2015. The results are hot off the press but show impressive improvements in key areas.
and, crucially, there have been significant improvements in restoring colleagues’ confidence in the business.
Improvement vs 2014
Improvement vs 2014
Improvement vs 2014
“We couldn’t have asked for better partners on this project,” says Kim. “We’ve had great advice from People Insight throughout and their energy and knowledge really rubbed off on everyone.”
“We had great uptake and really good completion rates each time because I think colleagues were desperate to tell us exactly what they thought. People Insight helped us to tap into this and reassure them that their input would make a real difference.
“It was brave of the Leadership Team to gauge opinion when the business was facing such major challenges, but by getting employees involved in the survey, and importantly in the action, we’re harnessing momentum and driving this fantastic business forward.”