Board report for 31 May 06 Item 8

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1 Board report for 31 May 06 Item 8

2 DRAFT Internal communications strategy Contents 1. Executive Summary 2. Introduction 3. Background 4. The vision for communications 5. Strategic objectives 6. Early priorities 7. How this strategy will be monitored Appendix One: Staff communications survey results 1. Executive Summary The February 2002 DH document Shifting the balance of power within the NHS: communications says: The NHS Plan sets out a ten-year vision in which patients always come first and front-line staff are given more responsibility for delivering the care they need. Such a huge cultural shift may be difficult to achieve communications is vital to driving this process of change. This is not primarily about dealing with the media. It is about how the NHS communicates with patients, the public, its own staff and other organisations." In developing an internal communications strategy the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust recognises that our staff are our stakeholders, our representatives and our most powerful advocates and that communication by staff, and with staff, at all levels is essential to bring about involvement and engagement, and contribute to job satisfaction. This strategy has therefore been developed to support an organisational culture in which all staff feel involved with and valued by the Trust and the people they work with, and in which all staff understand the responsibilities they have in communicating with colleagues and patients, and in giving a positive impression of the Trust within the local community. In order to achieve these aims, the communication strategy outlines a vision for communication, identifying and recognising the various communication needs of staff depending on their individual circumstances, analyse the communication methods currently available, and plan improvements and methods of evaluation.

3 It also develops key strategic objectives for communications, and identifies early priorities to achieve improved communication at all levels within the Trust, 2. Introduction The February 2002 DH document Shifting the balance of power within the NHS: communications says: The NHS Plan sets out a ten-year vision in which patients always come first and front-line staff are given more responsibility for delivering the care they need. Such a huge cultural shift may be difficult to achieve communications is vital to driving this process of change. This is not primarily about dealing with the media. It is about how the NHS communicates with patients, the public, its own staff and other organisations." The Institute of Public Relations describes the communications function as being about reputation - the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics. In developing an internal communications strategy the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust recognises that our staff are our stakeholders, our representatives and our most powerful advocates and that communication by staff, and with staff, at all levels is essential to bring about involvement and engagement, and contribute to job satisfaction. The comprehensiveness of this strategy encompasses the need for our managers and lead professionals to be involving and consultative in their communications with their staff, so it will replace the Trust s earlier Staff Involvement Policy. 3. Background The RD&E has always had a commitment to communicating with staff as part of the process of encouraging staff involvement and engagement in the work of the Trust. This approach is reflected in the Trust s human resources strategy, and it s initiatives to improve the working environment and amenities for staff, and encourage healthy lifestyles. Its success is demonstrated in the annual staff survey, and in the recently conducted staff communication survey (Appendix One). Our commitment to two-way communication with staff has been even stronger since becoming an NHS Foundation Trust in April The principle of public accountability and community involvement is a vital expression of our status as a membership organisation, and being an NHSFT offers us a new opportunity to redefine our partnership not only with the local people we serve, but also with our staff, in that membership of the NHSFT is about active participation, with opportunities for members to have greater direct involvement, which includes participating as partners in planning the future development of services, acting as consultees when service changes are planned, and informing strategy at all levels within the NHSFT. In the Trust s service development strategy we state that our vision is to remain focused on our core business of providing accessible services and timely, high quality care to NHS patients In the

4 same document four key strategies are identified, one of which is responding to staff, in particular by improving communications. The overarching intention of this strategy is therefore to support an organisational culture in which: Staff are engaged with, involved in, committed to, and knowledgeable about the Trust, and have a positive perception of the RD&E as a good place to work, and as the hospital of choice for local people. Staff know what is expected of them when they work here, and morale, retention and motivation is high. Staff know that good communication is everyone s responsibility. Staff are able to give a positive impression of the Trust to the local community, because their experience of working here is positive. In order to achieve these aims this internal communication strategy seeks to: Bring planned coherence to the ways the RD&E communicates with all staff groups. Take account of some of the underlying messages that are being communicated in all sorts of less obvious ways. Ensure that the communication process in all its forms is supporting the aims, objectives and strategic direction of the organisation. Reinforce the key role that all staff play in effective communication and support them to perform this role. 4. The vision for communications The RD&E approach to effective communications combines the national guidelines outlined in the previous section with our values as a membership organisation, especially our own commitment to working in partnership our staff, and our local community. The RD&E will continually assess the way we communicate with, engage with and involve our staff, evolve our communications methods and programmes to meet changing needs, and actively seek feedback on how well we inform, and listen to, those who are involved, interested or need to know about our services and our work. This approach is a cycle, rather than a step by step progression towards a goal. The Trust will: 1. Identify and respond to the needs of all staff groups and individuals who are involved with, interested in and need to know about the Trust and its work. At different times, and depending on the issues, staff may see themselves as being in one of all of these groups. 2. In the same way, the Trust recognises that staff may move between these categories depending on their level of engagement, and that the organisation has a responsibility to ensure that the level of engagement of individual members of staff is appropriate to their

5 role and responsibilities, and therefore to ensure we communicate effectively and appropriately in order to bring about a level of engagement that meets the needs of the individual and the organisation.. 3. Regularly analyse our existing communications with staff. This will include formal mechanisms already in place, such as staff surveys, local approaches such as focus groups, and contact through staff side, and by regular contact and discussion as a normal part of our everyday relationships. 4. Fill any gaps in effective communication identified through the analyses. This might for example involve developing communications skills within the Trust, helping staff to become ambassadors for the Trust and our work, and improving the flow of information within the Trust. 5. Plan and deliver communications programmes in line with the Trust s strategic and business objectives. The Trust will work to make sure that the information it provides to its entire staff, at whatever level of involvement, is always accessible, accurate, timely and useful. 6. Evaluate the success of the Trust's communications by repeating the analysis at step two, and make adjustments to our communications as appropriate. 5. Strategic Objectives The Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust aims to maintain mutual understanding with all our staff. Communications techniques to be adopted (listed with success and evaluation criteria) will include: communications among staff (i.e. from top managers to line managers to staff and back again). Success criteria: staff at all levels can describe the Trust's objectives which relate to them, know what is expected of them, feel valued for the contribution they make, feel involved in decisions that affect their part of the service or their working lives, and able to comment on, and raise, issues with managers. Lead responsibility: HR/ line managers through team meetings, organisational development, personal development plans, linked to the Trust s annual plan, and day-to-day management supervision. Measured by: annual staff surveys, exit interviews, focus groups. 5.2 Recruitment and induction information: Success criteria: The Trust s recruitment information is professional, welcoming and accurate. Lead responsibility: all departments who recruit staff, supported by human resources and communications departments. Measured by: feedback from shortlisted and successful candidates; calibre of recruits from analysis of application forms, feedback following corporate and departmental induction. 5.3 Learning and development information. Success criteria: Managers and staff are aware of all the learning and career development opportunities available to staff members. Lead responsibility: Human resources and learning and development service. Measured by: consistent take-up of courses, learning and development opportunities; staff awareness measured through annual staff surveys. 5.4 Internal e-communications. Success criteria: staff can access information at the workplace by , and via ComEx and the Trust website. is the preferred means of transmitting information; a core of useful information is available via ComEx;

6 performance indicators and clinical information data collected electronically. Lead responsibility: Finance and IM&T, and Performance (for infrastructure and data collection) supported by e-communications manager and head of corporate affairs (for ComEx) Measured by: percentage of staff able to access and make use of and ComEx; establishment of robust data collection/transmission systems Trust-wide; regular staff communication surveys to assess effectiveness of ComEx. 5.5 External e-communications: Success criteria: Anyone interested in the work of the Trust (including staff) can find out information via our web-site easily and effectively. The Trust responds to external queries efficiently and successfully. Lead responsibility: E-communications manager and head of corporate affairs, with the involvement of the executive team, senior managers and all staff who have responsibility for communicating information to them. Measured by: Number of visits to Trust website; feedback to E-communications manager and head of corporate affairs; evidence of action taken to respond to suggestions for developing content. 5.6 Publications: Success criteria: information published by the Trust (including information for people who use services and their carers) will be accessible, helpful to its readership and accurate. It will promote the values of the Trust. Lead responsibility, communications officer, head of corporate affairs, Health Information Centre. Measured by: feedback from recipients through formal and informal surveys; evidence of improved information for people who use services, including staff. 5.7 Media relations: Success criteria: Media coverage of the Trust and its services is balanced and broadly accurate; the Trust s purpose is described and explained; the media respect the rights and feelings of those who use the Trust s services, and those who work in the Trust. Lead responsibility: communications officer and head of corporate affairs, with the involvement of the executive team, senior managers and all staff who have responsibility for communicating information to them. Measured by: monitoring of media coverage; an opportunity to answer questions and allegations before publication, and enough time to answer these questions properly; errors of fact are corrected (when these are pointed out quickly). 5.8 Trust newsletter: Success criteria: Published and distributed to staff monthly, providing an overview of the Trust s work and promoting positive images of teams and individual members of staff, and providing recognition of staff achievements and how their individual contribution affects the success and reputation of the organisation. Lead responsibility: communications officer and head of corporate affairs, with the involvement of the executive team, senior managers and all staff who have responsibility for communicating information to them. Measured by: Positive reaction to the publication from readers (via formal and informal surveys); evidence of content from the publication being used in other media and by Trust staff to explain the Trust s work. 5.9 Events: Success criteria: Events and focus groups to promote the work of the Trust and to gain feedback and contribution from staff. Lead responsibility: HR managers and communications department. Measured by: Consistent levels of attendance; feedback from each event; awareness of events among staff, demonstration that Trust acts on feedback from staff by incorporating staff contribution into Trust strategies. 6. Early priorities

7 Following analysis of the staff communication survey carried out in October 2005, and discussion about communications in IWL focus groups, a number of early priorities have been identified. 6.1 Formation of an internal communications group Acting as an informal editorial committee, with membership from the communications team, human resources and staff side representatives, this group will review the analysis of the staff communications survey, to ensure that the various communication media (newsletter, ComEx, notice boards, team meetings) collectively provide comprehensive and consistent communications to all staff, and that the needs of specific groups of staff are met. The approach taken will be to recognise and exploit the preferences some staff groups have for each medium, as well as their opportunities to access the different media. To be achieved by: June Development of a communications toolkit This will be developed by the head of corporate affairs and the communications officer, assisted by human resources and the learning and development service. It will provide and demonstrate a range of tools and approaches to be used by any member of staff who has a responsibility for communicating team or organisational goals to the wider staff group. It will also demonstrate how the level of engagement required by the Trust to ensure organisational objectives can be met by use of appropriate communications tools. To be achieved by: November Development of communication and media awareness training for staff To be delivered to complement existing communications skills training delivered by the learning and development service. This will provide staff with practical advice on how to communicate information to colleagues within the Trust using the communications toolkit, and provide a greater understanding of how good internal communications affect the Trust s reputation in the local community. It will include information about how the Trust manages media relations. Training programme developed by: November Continue work to update style and content of staff newsletter Anecdotal information, validated by IWL focus groups and the communications survey, has indicated that staff want a more newsy and informative style, less a communication vehicle to disseminate what is perceived as management information, and more a newsletter about staff for staff. The style and content of the newsletter has already changed significantly, whilst still retaining information that staff need to know about the organisation (e.g. information contained in the board report). Initial feedback has been very positive, and this process will continue with the intention of encouraging much greater staff participation in the way the newsletter is written. Ongoing process 6.5 Continue work to populate, update and improve functionality of ComEx and the RD&E website

8 The increasing reliance on the use of ComEx as an internal tool for communications is well established. In order that it is as user-friendly and accessible as possible, its style and content should both match and complement the staff newsletter. ComEx is a community-wide intranet, and the ComEx editorial board will continue to have responsibility, with the RD&E IM&T Directorate, for its development and the improvement of its functionality, so that the e-communications manager can continue to populate it with up-to-date information, and promote its use. The RD&E website will also be updated to reflect the changing needs of the Trust and the local community. 7. How this strategy will be monitored The head of corporate affairs, working closely with the director of human resources, has developed this strategy and has an overall remit to guide the development of effective communications for the Trust. This strategy will be monitored by the internal communications group and the Trust board, and will be reviewed and updated annually, following each annual staff survey and staff communications survey.

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