Developing a Health, Well-being and Culture Assessment to understand organisational culture and its impact on the workforce.

Every organisation creates a unique culture of its own. Your culture is your brand and it is defined by the vision, values, beliefs, environment and traditions that the individuals of the organisation share.  This culture determines the success of an organisation as it influences how it conducts business, adapts to change, manages workflow, as well as how your people think, feel and act.

With so many influencing factors, the task of managing culture is challenging and, to add to the difficulty, it’s not defined, owned, or controlled by one person or group. Many organisations opt to conduct their own in-house culture assessments, however, they may not have the right level of expertise, the process, or resources available to effectively identify both their current and desired culture. As a result, the assessment might not truly identify the workforce’s experience of the workplace, the cultures that prevail and the values that guide behaviour, which is why organisations often turn to companies like Zeal Solutions for professional support.

Why the NHS Trust carried out a culture assessment

The East Midlands Ambulance Trust (EMAS) has worked with Zeal Solutions previously on a variety of projects, and so when EMAS wanted to understand better the levels of morale and engagement among its workforce and the impact of this on organisational and individual health and wellbeing, they contracted Zeal to conduct a Health, Well-being and Culture Audit. This audit was also used to complement the annual NHS staff opinion survey.

Following a national call to action for Ambulance Services to assess their organisational cultures, Zeal designed, developed and carried out a Health, Well-being and Culture Audit to assess the current culture and the workforces’ attitudes towards the workplace. We created a solution that would identify potential issues and make recommendations for change to enhance employee health, well-being and engagement.

How Zeal managed the process

Understanding a workplace and its people is the all-important first step in our approach.  Part of what makes Zeal unique is our attention to detail and how we get to the core of an organisation. This ensures that we understand each company that we work with before we carry out any assessments or recommend interventions. It is imperative that we understand the dynamics of each workplace and its people and use that to inform our strategy.

As such, when working with EMAS, we formed a steering group of stakeholders at various levels across the organisation to ensure we obtained a representative sample of feedback. This would also generate internal awareness and demonstrated that the views and opinions of the workforce were valued. We also conducted focus groups and interviews with 100 employees to further ensure involvement in the development of the audit. The insight gained from the focus groups was used to create a workforce survey that was distributed to 3,500 employees, and responses were gathered through online and paper surveys, before being analysed.

Using the data from the workplace survey, we worked with EMAS to produce a set of evidence-based actions intended to protect and promote a positive culture and sense of well-being.

To promote workforce engagement and inclusion, we presented the findings across three leadership conferences and 22 focus groups, as well as producing an in-depth report and integrated action plan in line with the organisation’s vision for the future.

This two-year plan for delivering change is currently underway. We are continuing to work with EMAS to implement the plan and will have ongoing involvement throughout this period. Working together and having an ongoing relationship is key to measuring the impact of the investment and strategy, and ensuring genuine change takes place.

The outcomes of the assessment

Previous internal surveys had generated low response rates. We, therefore, focused on ensuring the survey was simple, easy to complete and not time-consuming. We devised a strategy that maximised workforce awareness and engagement to encourage people to respond, which resulted in 48% of employees taking part.

The higher response rate allowed us to help EMAS understand its people. As such the aim of improved cultural development has been set, with four key action plan areas identified. The findings of the audit are continually being used to help advise and inform these strategies to drive change, offer support and boost engagement in the organisation.

Additionally, Zeal Solutions won the Excellence in Change Management Award at the 2019 Workforce Experience Awards, which celebrates excellence in the application of Business Psychology in the workplace.

Kerry Gulliver, Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development, EMAS NHS Trust said:

“Our continued partnership with Zeal has allowed us to work together to drive change in our organisation. We work in a fast-paced dynamic emergency environment, with increasing levels of demand, and our staff can often face challenging, emotional and traumatic incidents. This can have a dramatic impact upon on an individual and the team, so we wanted to carry out a detailed audit of the health, wellbeing and culture of our organisation.”

“By being so specific, detailed and tailored, Zeal’s audit helped us understand our people, their experiences in the workplace, and the impact of their experience.  This has helped us shape our People and Organisational Development Strategy and action plan. Zeal’s approach and varied methodologies, with a genuine desire to make sure outcomes were validated and evidence-based, has allowed us to truly examine the workplace culture to support our staff and our organisational development journey.”

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