Morecambe Bay NHS rewarded for engagement turnaround

The Morecambe Bay Hospitals team collecting their 2018 award

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust took the 2018 Personnel Today Award for Employee Engagement after impressing our judges with its dramatic improvement in staff morale. We look at its winning entry and those of our runners-up.


University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT)

UHMBT had been through a traumatic period after the Kirkup Investigation found it had failed on a number of levels. A staff survey in 2012 found that staff were disengaged and dissatisfied, with 71% of the 28 key findings in bottom ranking tiers. The Trust wanted to show a genuine commitment to making a difference and that it would empower staff to improve.

The initial challenge was to reconnect employees with UHMBT’s core purpose – to provide high quality, effective services to patients delivered by compassionate and committed staff. Leadership behaviours needed to reinforce this message. A huge cultural change was overseen, endorsed and evaluated through the board of the Trust. It had five ‘Ps’ at its heart: Patients, People, Progress, Performance and Partnerships.

A behavioural standards framework based on these pillars was incorporated into recruitment processes, performance management, induction and leadership development policies. The board also introduced a new wellbeing programme, called Flourish at Work, to support staff in their physical and mental wellbeing.

Outcomes were monitored through the Quality Improvement Plan, and in 56 of 62 responses to the staff survey, things had improved. The Trust has since been deemed ‘Good’ with some areas outstanding by the Care Quality Commission.


Lucy Adams, The Disruptive HR agency
Wendy Cartwright,
Ministry of Defence
Mark Withers,
Mightywaters Consulting

Britannia Pharmaceuticals

Despite positive results in its first Happiness at Work survey, Britannia wanted to concentrate its focus on certain areas to ensure that staff were even more engaged. It identified employee wellbeing, personal development planning and internal communications as areas for improvement. The company formed a ‘Happiness’ working group with representatives from all departments, holding focus groups and team discussions to understand what was important to employees.

A new personal development planning process was put in place, focusing on the 70:20:10 approach to learning. New features include financial support for educational training, leadership development and training in coaching behaviours. Britannia identified the behaviours required for various roles and introduced a new competency framework to connect with the new vision and values of the organisation. Wellbeing initiatives included a wellbeing week and a partnership with mental health charity SANE to combat stigmas around discussing mental health issues at work.

Communications mechanisms have improved, for example through quarterly company meetings, a quarterly newsletter and anonymous suggestion box. Those who go the extra mile to demonstrate company values can benefit from a recognition scheme. Employees already see the company delivering on its promises: 82.5% reported positive action within their department; 87.5% have seen an improvement in wellbeing, and trust in leaders has increased by 15%.

Ceridian Europe

In June 2016, Ceridian Europe was established after a change in business structure. This meant that its Glasgow team underwent a lot of transition, including the introduction of a new management structure, the need to grow revenue and increase headcount – a 95% increase over 18 months – as well as move office space.

The company needed to ensure that the changes (some people would have a longer commute, for example) would not negatively impact engagement scores, which were around 70%. Ceridian Europe opted to hire a people and culture manager, Loretta Perry, to steer engagement and support employees through the transition. Looking at employee data, two key themes emerged: employees wanted more uptake on their suggestions and influence on business decisions, and managers wanted more autonomy to make decisions regarding their own teams and areas.

A new engagement strategy focused on increasing autonomy and accountability. Initiatives included: a new colleague forum to steer improvements; new career development tools; a talent investment programme and support with tuition costs for those looking into further education and learning. Ceridian Europe also introduced flexible working options such as condensed hours and more home working arrangements.

Engagement scores have gone up from 70% to 79% over 12 months, and attrition has dropped from 10% to 7.5%. Ceridian Europe’s leadership effectiveness index has climbed 22 percentage points to 93%.

Charles Stanley & Co

Charles Stanley & Co is one of the longest established investment management companies in the City. It wanted to refresh its approach to management, which had previously been very ‘top-down’, and improve customer, employee and shareholder satisfaction. It launched the ‘Great Place to Work’ project with five key employee engagement objectives: understand current levels of engagement; identify areas of improvement; track progress; set future benchmarks and introduce a sustainable model for engagement.

It partnered with consultancy People Lab, which facilitated workshops to understand what employees felt helped their own engagement. It then launched its first employee engagement survey. The responses to the survey have fed into new initiatives such as management development and the launch of a manager’s toolkit; the creation of eight new workstreams focused on areas such as diversity and inclusion or leadership and values; and the launch of three new core values.

The employee engagement survey is now in its third year, and results continue to improve. There has been a six point increase in its employee engagement index, now at 73%. Charles Stanley & Co’s latest Net Promoter Score is 58%, the business has won numerous business and HR awards and, crucially, has returned to profit.

Kerry Foods

Kerry Foods employs 6,500 employees at 20 locations in the UK, Ireland and Europe. Three years ago it felt it had lost its agile, entrepreneurial spirit. After launching its new purpose, vision and values, it needed to capture this spirit to drive growth through a reinvigorated employee engagement strategy.

Trailblazers aims to build the belief at Kerry Foods that everyone has a part to play in its future. Employees had to come up with an idea that could be taken to market and “define the future of food in a unique, exciting way”. It ran from January to August 2017, complete with communications materials, advertising resources and presentations to help managers inspire their teams. Stories were shared on the intranet, e-zine, print magazine and monthly news video.

From 860 ideas, functional leaders created a shortlist of 46. These employees then created a pitch video for the Trailblazing Review Day, where 10 finalists were chosen. These 10 attended a four-week bootcamp ending in a final pitch to the senior leadership team. There were two winners, and participants who’d demonstrated the Kerry Foods values also received awards. Since running the initiative, 22 out of 24 departments have reported a rise in engagement. Four out of six finalists were promoted within six months of completing the challenge.

Moss Bros

In recent times, suit retailer Moss Bros has undergone dramatic change to keep pace with changes in customer demand. It also appointed a new CEO in 2009, whose aim was to turn around the business. A new HR director was tasked with increasing employee engagement and to get staff focused on the organisation’s overarching goal to “make men feel amazing”.

Moss Bros worked with consulting company ENGAGE to develop an engagement plan that would not only cover store staff but also head office and distribution centres. The first step was to work with the senior team to come up with a new cultural framework and set of values. These were communicated to managers via a roadshow and graphics/communications were shared with all employees so they could understand the changes underway.

A branded survey was introduced to capture feedback from employees and make them aware they have a voice in where the company is heading. An engagement index has been developed that will gather analysis from this data – engagement levels have risen by 10% in the past two years. Data shows that performance is higher in stores where there is better engagement, recognising employee excellence has a positive impact on sales, and those that receive honest feedback better understand what’s expected of them, driving sales.

Odeon Cinemas Group

In November 2016, Odeon Cinemas Group was bought by AMC Theatres – what followed was an extensive expansion and integration programme that required aligning eight brands into a new growth strategy. Ensuring there was a sense of shared purpose among employees was crucial to success.

Odeon used its ‘ask, listen, plan, act’ cycle to discover what colleagues felt about working there. This feedback led to #thebigvaluesvote, part of a colleague engagement month known as Sharetember. Colleagues voted for a list of 21 shared values, which were revealed at the launch of the company’s new strategy – the Big Plan. There was a 13-city gathering via video conference led by the senior team and these messages were sustained through events during 2018.

In April, Odeon held ‘Euromission’, a campaign where teams had to complete mini missions each day that aligned with the company’s new vision and values. Each cinema had its own mission materials and was visited by a regional manager to see how they were getting on. Eighty-seven percent now understand Odeon’s values (up 17% pre survey), 90% understand its vision and mission (up 20%), and 75% think the Euromission campaign had a positive impact on their team. In 2017, Odeon’s net promoter score increased by 7% year on year.


VHR is an international technical recruitment organisation to the aerospace and automation, automotive, engineering, defence and marine industries. Employee turnover in the recruitment industry has been reported at 43% against a UK average of 15%, and VHR needs to hang on to its skilled, experienced staff who deal with international clients in a number of languages. Finding this talent after Brexit could also become more of a challenge.

To address this, the company has set out a transparent career progression and promotion system that attracts potential talent at the beginning of their career and transforms them into successful consultants through bespoke training. There are quarterly engagement surveys, which are reviewed and changes subsequently implemented. Wellbeing incentives include one extra day of paid annual leave every six months without absence and there are monthly social events.

After 18 months, employees can benefit from a professional qualifications scheme where VHR assists with costs, and there is an international internship programme to attract future consultants from all over Europe and further afield. January 2018 was the company’s most successful in 15 years of trading. Employee retention now stands at 88% and staff turnover has reduced to 12%. Three staff members have billed over 600% of their annual targets less than halfway through this financial year, and overall annual revenue has been above target for more than five years.

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