Increasing Employee Engagement to Make a Difference
Community Health Partnerships found that a mobile app platform helped keep employees highly engaged while improving communication across the organization.
When it comes to doing good, Community Health Partnerships (CHP) gets the job done well. Owned by the Department of Health and headquartered in London, CHP has been on a mission for nearly two decades to do public good by building healthy spaces that improve patient care across England. The organization adds value to the NHS and its partners not only by building state-of-the-art healthcare estates, but also by ensuring that these innovative properties remain as effective as the day they were built.
Lifting Buildings and Spirits
Since its launch in 2001, CHP has an impressive track record of delivery that includes £2.5 billion of investment in 339 buildings with integrated health and social care through its NHS Local Improvement Finance Trust (LIFT) Programme. In addition to working with commissioners at the Department of Health, CHP has many other local partners as well, including the 49 public private partnership LIFT companies, the private sector and the NHS
Designed to make a difference for primary and community care in part by delivering services close to home for those who need them, its property portfolio houses more than 1,400 tenants. In short, it creates places where people want to work and can thrive in their jobs while serving others.
As a result, thousands of people in local communities benefit from CHP’s work annually. To achieve this, CHP helps to deliver savings, increase service integration, and drive optimal use of health and well-being centers across the NHS estate. Yet organizations like CHP that the public relies on to improve everything from working conditions for employees to quality of care, must prioritize internal communication as well as employee engagement. CHP needed to find a way to reliably make this happen.
Helping the Helpers
With such important missions at stake, employee communication and engagement can’t be left to chance. With a recent staff survey demonstrating extremely high levels of staff engagement, CHP was determined to maintain—and ideally even improve—this rather than risk losing this momentum.
It was vital for CHP’s network of employees to be updated on news and important events, as well as be offered a voice through the ability to share their thoughts and views with their peers and management. CHP’s goal was to be able to proactively communicate with employees across multiple locations in real time, while also giving staff a way to share content outward. Ideally, CHP additionally wanted a way to measure employee engagement and attitudes so that they could respond appropriately to make a difference.
CHP had a related goal as well: to bring its internal communications up to speed with current technologies. With a disparate team of nondesk employees (NDEs) and a mix of investment teams, property managers, and corporate staff needing to collaborate, the organisation sought a way where all stakeholders could communicate easily, instantly, and effectively no matter where they were based or if they were traveling. In addition to connecting people in the organisation with each other, CHP needed insight into employee engagement, with a convenient way to gather staff opinions, attitudes, and feedback. The goal was for management to understand the big picture and know what was going on across the different groups, to be able to learn from the teams and make changes to boost engagement when necessary.
A Sticky Solution
With these needs in mind, CHP embarked on a search for an innovative partner to help them realize their ambitions. CHP considered several alternatives to help them meet their needs, including setting up private Facebook groups or using Yammer. Yet with a desire for simplicity front and center alongside effectiveness, CHP selected StaffConnect’s sophisticated mobile app platform after seeing a demo. Since CHP was already using HR apps via phone for digital connection among its teams, StaffConnect was a natural next step. Helena Reeves, Director of Communications and Organizational Development, explained why: “Many CHP colleagues reported that they’re not fans of social media, so we needed it to be easy to use,” said Reeves. “While some were initially skeptical, most doubters have converted and now love the solution—a huge success moment!”
CHP had recently identified a national theme of sparking innovation, with a monthly innovative challenge group session. Since a need was identified for engagement to be connected to innovation, the organization wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to participate as part of their existing innovation theme. Before incorporating the StaffConnect platform, CHP’s culture was very email based, which made it difficult if not impossible for employees to experience real-time, anytime, instant access to daily news and engagement opportunities. Reeves understood that culturally, it was critical for innovation to be able to exchange ideas as they arose in the moment, not just at monthly meetings or day-to-day via email. She recognized that when employees are engaged and collaborating, even corporate news can become “sticky” and something that employees want to consume.
Reeves noted that CHP particularly appreciated the “personalized touch” they received from the StaffConnect team, which included pre-launch ‘AppSuccess’ consultation sessions: “StaffConnect understood our challenges and helped us devise our launch strategy, as well as plans for ongoing adoption and engagement,” said Reeves. “They held our hand every step of the way from implementation to training, best practices, and lessons learned from other clients. It was like a breath of fresh air.” StaffConnect’s communications professionals also worked closely with CHP, providing domain expertise to help the organisation define best practice and implement a successful communication strategy. As a result of all of these steps, when CHP launched StaffConnect in March, they saw extremely high download rates of the app, far exceeding initial expectations.
Even in the initial months since the platform’s launch in March, CHP started enjoying a wide range of benefits from StaffConnect’s interactive app, intuitive management console, and inspiring success program, which have already started to transform how the organisation reaches, communicates with, and engages its workforce. Two-way communication has been greatly improved, with staff able to share content via the platform using CHP’s branded StaffConnect app called “buzz.” Users are viewing an average of seven screens per session, with their favorite features as communities, news, and the staff directory. At the same time, corporate communications no longer needs to wait for a company newsletter to be published now that the company can—for the first time ever—send out information companywide in real-time.
“We are beginning to get people posting and liking their content and it is growing quickly,” said Reeves. “Everyone is aware of our buzz app and it’s even beginning to integrate into corporate language such as, “I’ve already buzzed that!” The language is becoming part of the culture.” As a real-life example of how the StaffConnect app is bringing people across the organization together, during the recent terrorist attacks at the London Bridge, the communication team were able to message out immediately and check that everyone was safe. Reeves also notes that StaffConnect can be a great alternative versus email to send out crisis communications in the event of ransomware hitting the healthcare community. To measure success, CHP uses StaffConnect metrics to increase the share of voice and disseminate findings, encouraging more users to post and engage.
StaffConnect also helps CHP build on its longstanding set of values to provide not only a great working environment for staff, but also to deliver excellent service to customers. These values are intricately connected to communication and include communicating openly and honestly, investing in relationships, and developing innovative ideas and solutions. “The StaffConnect app has created additional formal channels that help us bring people together,” said Reeves. “We now use the buzz app to build on that better culture for open communication that improves employee and patient relations. The app is firmly rooted in the values that make up the CHP Way.”
The strategies that StaffConnect helped CHP create will gradually become pivotal not only for the organization’s today’s needs, but also for tomorrow’s improvements in internal communications and employee engagement. “Our key goals remain recruitment, retention, and employee satisfaction as we build a bridge to a long-term vision and future for our organization, our employees, and the community we serve,” said Reeves. “As a next step, we want to get our active users engaging and sharing every day to make sure we have a diverse rich voice for everyone in the company. We are learning and expanding as we go.”