With a staff of around 3,000, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital serves around 278,000 residents in the Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire counties about 100 miles north of London. The Staff Engagement Team uses the Ombea ExpressPod smiley terminals to keep track of employee feedback. Ombea helps them to understand employee satisfaction in real-time. With quantifiable, anonymous and department-specific data, the team can easily understand where they need to act, and how, to improve employee wellbeing.
“Now more than ever we need to understand how our staff are feeling, without assuming anything.” - Amanda-Jane Weir, Head of Staff Engagement and Events at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital
A few years ago, a general assessment by the British Care Quality Commission (CQC) noted low levels of employee satisfaction at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Looking at the data from the NHS National Staff Survey, employees reported not feeling listened to by their managers. The hospital made employee engagement an action item for subsequent years, organizing a dedicated team to specifically address this issue.
The Staff Engagement team started by holding frequent talks with the department managers in the hospital, as well as sending SurveyMonkey surveys to staff members. Based on these conversations and survey responses, they would organize events for that specific department, and involve Freedom to Speak Up Guardians when necessary.
While these actions were a step in the right direction, the team still lacked three things:
- A quantifiable way to measure employee satisfaction.
- A department-level detection mechanism to anticipate negative employee feedback.
- A way to capture employee responses anonymously.
The team lacked a baseline numerical value for employee satisfaction, so there was no way of knowing whether their actions improved or worsened employee satisfaction. A lack of quantifiable evidence also made discussions with upper management difficult, as responses from the SurveyMonkey surveys were unable to answer questions such as “ How can you assure us that staff are unhappy?” and “How are you measuring engagement?”
Capturing employee feedback was also difficult. By discussing their concerns with their managers, or by having to fill in a survey, workers were afraid the feedback would be traced back to them. The fear of negative consequences would incite workers to present their satisfaction in a more positive way, either by saying everything is fine to their manager, or marking only positive responses in the survey.
Furthermore, the Staff Engagement team had an incomplete image of where employee satisfaction issues might crop up. Speaking to department managers was their primary way of detecting satisfaction issues. This provided an incomplete picture, since there could be things the manager might not be aware of. While survey responses helped provide more clarity, more data was necessary to make an accurate assessment.
“Ombea gives a general consensus on the temperature of the whole organization. It lets me ask lots of people the same question, and allows me to get feedback to that question. It allows me to act without anybody feeling identified or pressured, or that there may be negative consequences for it.” - Amanda-Jane Weir, Head of Staff Engagement and Events at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital uses the Ombea On-site module to help bring clarity to employee satisfaction. They use ten ExpressPods, each placed in different parts of the hospital. Each ExpressPod poses questions such as “Do you feel your manager has been supportive today?” Two of the ExpressPods are dedicated to common areas such as the canteen and the staff lounge. The other eight are moved around to measure specific feedback from all departments.
For department-specific feedback, they’ll place an ExpressPod in the department’s staff area for 6 weeks. Based on the spread of happy, sad and neutral smileys, they will either take specific action or move to another department. If an action is needed, they’ll place an ExpressPod again after around 3 months to evaluate how effective that action was.
Collecting feedback from both general and specific locations affords the Queen Elizabeth hospital a birds-eye view of the entire organization. They can get a quick temperature reading on how everything is going, as well as make comparisons across departments. This helps give praise to departments that are performing well, and identify which departments need a little more help with employee satisfaction.
Ombea solves the lack of numerical evidence by providing an ‘Insights Index’. This index, ranging from 0 - 100, is derived by collecting the amount of happy, sad, and neutral faces from a given pod and translating them into a single number. The employee satisfaction team is now able to hold evidence-based discussions with management, rather than relying on anecdotes.
Since responses recorded by the ExpressPods are anonymous, employees feel safe in knowing their responses can’t be traced back to them. Not only does this increase the total amount of responses, but also the likelihood that an employee will be honest in their answers. The Staff Engagement team can now be confident that the data they’re seeing on the dashboard is a true reflection of employee wellbeing.
Ombea also helps the Staff Engagement team measure the impact of their work. If a particular department has had an unusual amount of sad faces, this might indicate an issue. The team can then have a chat with the department manager and try to understand if a specific issue or event might be tied to this feedback. Because the feedback is timestamped, the manager can give better insights into specific events instead of going by gut feeling.
For example, if there were a lot of sad faces expressed last Wednesday between 1 PM and 3 PM in the outpatients department, everybody knows where to focus a discussion. The team can then have a chat with the Head of Outpatients and say “This is the data that we’re getting. Can you see a link to a specific event? Do you have any ideas?”
“Ombea allows me to reach out to the people that ordinarily wouldn’t be honest to my face.” -Amanda-Jane Weir, Head of Staff Engagement and Events at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital
Nip issues in the bud. Using the Insights index, the Staff Engagement team gets a quantifiable measure of employee satisfaction. If the index is low, this can indicate a yet undiscovered issue and take appropriate measures to prevent its escalation.
More feedback. The Queen Elizabeth hospital receives an average of 300 - 400 responses a week from their ExpressPods. This is higher than when using the National Staff Survey, where they would get around 1,500 responses for a whole year.
An idea of what works and what doesn’t. Using the Insights Index, the Staff Engagement team can determine a baseline level for each department. After specific action has been taken to increase satisfaction, they can once again measure the Insights Index and precisely determine the impact. This objective evidence directly feeds discussions on internal process improvements, as well as with discussions with upper management.