‘How are you feeling today?’ – the power of staff experience

Posted on: 22-10-2018 by Ruta Sapatkaite


‘How are you feeling today?’ – the power of staff experience

This week’s blog post is a guest appearance by our partners over at FH Intuition; Anne Frampton who is a Consultant in Emergency Medicine, and Andrew Hollowood who is a Consultant Surgeon. They both combine roles at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust with being tech entrepreneurs.

How are you feeling today?

A simple question like that can make a difference to anyone’s day, regardless of the sector you work in, but it might be even more important in healthcare which is first and foremost a people business. The quality of care is dependent on having the right professionals with the right skills in the right place at the right time.

This is made more difficult every day as healthcare is facing an immense workforce challenge. Deloitte’s Time to Care study from last year reported that there will be a shortfall of up to 2 million health professionals across the EU by 2020. Furthermore, 50 senior healthcare leaders interviewed in the study said that improving staff engagement, recruitment and retention, and increasing workforce productivity are key priorities.

Back in 2015, we already knew at our hospital in Bristol that happy staff equals happy patients. So our answer to tackle the workforce challenge was the SPEaC Happy app (also known simply as the Happy App). It’s a real-time staff feedback solution that we first piloted at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Trust. From the outset we worked with a team of researchers (from the National Institute for Health Research) who helped us evaluate and understand what made staff tick and how we could get the most out of this new tool.

We were bowled over by the response. Uptake was fantastic, and within a few months our pilot in two areas of the trust had grown to tens of areas. By December 2016 almost the entire Trust was able to use the app to feed back what was great about their day job as well as niggles and frustrations that were getting in the way.

The app uses emoji style icons to ask staff one straightforward question “How are you feeling today?”. The respondent selects a mood, leaves a comment and then local leaders act as moderators responding to the feedback, picking up and resolving issues.

Co-designing and customisation

Staff were involved with the design and implementation from the outset. We held workshops with staff to identify key features and understood early on that it needed to be anonymous, easy to use, and readily accessible. We also learnt that it was critical that comments were responded to so that staff felt assured their voice was being heard.

To promote engagement with the app, we involved staff in so called ‘culture weeks’. We developed close working relationships with front-line staff and executive directors to ensure engagement and buy-in from ward to board. We also developed the system in line with feedback and requests from local teams and other Trusts. This included upgrading dashboards and reporting tools, increasing flexibility to embed bespoke initiatives that met local needs, as well as developing features for positive incident reporting and staff surveys.

We developed the app so that each organisation can customise the common data structure and create their own bespoke version. This meant there was enough commonality to enable analysis across the system, whilst recognising the needs of individual organisations.

Finally, we worked with our partners at MES and Pansensic to develop a board-level analysis dashboard. This provides the in-depth analysis that allows the app to influence decisions at a senior level, as well as providing local team feedback.

So what about the impact?

Through the evaluation with the National Institute for Health Research, we identified that it helped staff in different ways. For individuals it gave them a voice, as a key feature was anonymity. It flattened hierarchies and ensured that everyone had their say. Staff often identified quick wins which, when fixed, boosted morale and supported improved patient care. For local leaders it gave them an opportunity to own issues, and from an organisation point of view it has supported recruitment and retention in several areas.

            “…in 27 years of nursing I have never seen such a proactive way of addressing staff satisfaction…”

More than 50 per cent of the comments uploaded to the app were positive, with staff especially feeding back on team working, often with suggestions for improvements.

Several Trusts have also made substantial financial savings, with one NHS acute Trust using this solution in theatres saving over £274,000 in just 12 months through reduced staff turnover and sickness absenteeism.

Our vision is to enable all staff to provide honest anonymous feedback about their day and know that they will be listened to.

Want to find out more?

MES and FH Intuition are working in partnership. Our MES Empower solution blends real-time feedback collected via the SPEaC-Happy app with our proven text analysis software and helps organisations drive improvement at scale and bridge the gap between the frontline and the board room. By collecting, analysing, responding to and making sense of feedback comments, we enable our clients to harness the wealth of human experiences to create a winning culture and winning teams.

For more information about MES Empower please contact Andreas.Norgren@membra.co.uk