Building back better: What culture lessons can NHS trusts learn from 2020?

Even before COVID-19, NHS trusts had been facing several cultural challenges. These include a lack of frontline workers, structural inflexibility and rigid working practices. Solving these issues is no easy feat, so where should trusts start?

Looking into staffing arrangements

Addressing workforce shortages, and inflexibility within staffing arrangements, should be a top priority for the sector.

By adopting an agile approach to developing solutions to cultural challenges and testing out what works, trusts can become more resilient. However, this may involve the need for employees to take on additional responsibilities to fill in any knowledge gaps. If so, this process should be handled considerately and with adequate support and training.

Focus on working together

Trusts must understand the needs of different employees, especially those working on the front line. Taking these into account at every stage of the change process will help to strengthen teams and optimise the success of the project.

Consider mental health and wellbeing

The mental health impacts of the battle against COVID-19 are becoming increasingly clear. Providing tailored support to people will help to bring employees together and build individual resilience, which will enable people to better handle stressful periods.

Prioritise effective line management

Exceptional line management is a cornerstone of excellent patient care and employee wellbeing. Training up managers to spot signs of poor mental health and be compassionate is a vital part of supporting frontline staff.

Communicative effectively

Through open communication with employees, trusts can foster a more joined-up and resilient workforce and a more cohesive culture. 

Consider opportunities to collaborate

Collaboration with the local community can help trusts to reduce pressure on their workforce during times of crisis. For example, this could involve creating local wellbeing initiatives and support groups.

Plan for the long term

With the possibility of further healthcare crises ahead, trusts need to take steps to improve their resilience where possible. By thoroughly reviewing long-term plans and considering future staffing constraints, trusts can better plan for tomorrow by building on the culture lessons from the past year.

For more information, contact Sue Johnson Gregory or Tim Powlson here.

Published: Mar 24, 2021

By Tim Powlson

Senior Business Consultant

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