Induction tool used to good effect by ambitious staff

The
NHS induction programme has given health service staff the confidence to focus
on their own needs. DeeDee Doke reports

Kuljit
Kaur began 2004 with good reason to celebrate. She won a promotion to the
position of HR adviser with the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mental Health
Partnership Trust. Just 18 months into her HR career, Kaur puts her success
down to the new National Health Service induction programme that is aimed at
‘developing HR with attitude’.

From
providing insight into the NHS’s HR strategy, to outlining potential career
paths for HR staff, the web-based programme – comprising an introduction and
three separate learning modules – is intended to help build the health
service’s 7,000-strong HR team into a world-class people management function.
In Kaur’s case, understanding the service’s vision for the future and how she
could fit into it led to her winning bid for the new job.        

“I
used the induction programme to form part of my presentation for the actual
interview – that’s how useful a tool it is,” said Kaur. “It really helped me
focus.”

The
programme – the first of its kind to be available throughout the NHS –
introduces new staff to the NHS’s culture and values, and creates a
personalised development plan for each user to help them build their own career
path. For Kaur, the plan outlined “a clear path I could see myself following,
and I kept thinking, I hope an opportunity arises,” she explained.

Dean
Royles, head of the Department of Health’s HR Capacity Unit, described the
initiative as part of a ‘cradle to grave’ framework being developed for HR
careers in the NHS.

Launched
late last year, the national induction programme is intended for a broad range
of HR professionals with varying levels of experience both in HR and in working  for the NHS, and to complement local
induction offerings. The next step in developing the induction programme will
be to extend it to non-HR line managers.

“The
evidence is clear that progressive people management has a positive impact on
patient care — that’s the key message we’re trying to get consistently across
the NHS,” said Royles. He cited a study published in the International Journal
of Human Resources 2002, which showed a link between the management of
employees and patient mortality rates.

“It’s
not about administration for administration’s sake. It’s about building upon
that evidence to make HR within the NHS a world-class service.”

The
programme is so new that no formal feedback has yet been compiled, but HR
manager Nina Ward says the majority of her colleagues were very positive and
optimistic about the scheme.

Ward,
who works at the Preston Primary Care Trust, volunteered to help contribute
ideas when the programme development was initiated last year. She wanted to
ensure that the history and culture of the NHS was detailed in the induction
programme so that HR staff members would understand the early cultural context
of their work.

Ward
believes that by offering the HR programme as an e-learning opportunity would
make it easier for staff to find time to take it outside normal working hours
instead of having to miss work for a class. She said the programme would
benefit HR by helping its staff realise the importance of what they do. “It’s
really launched the HR profession within the NHS,” she said.

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