Four, is the magic number.
Apparently, when it comes to the number of items of information the mind can cope with, before confusion sets in, the magic number is four.
So now you know. Oh, and a bit more…
Four is the only number with the same number of characters as its value.
And, as if by magic, there are four questions we need to ask ourselves about how to put the magic back into the workplace.
First question; Why do you work here?
Asking why the stayers stay is a good bet. When leavers leave, they seldom tell the truth because they might need to come back.
Once you find out why people work here, you can do more of it!
Second question; Have you ever been approached by another Trusts, or practice, or organisation, to work for them and why did you stay?
‘I stayed because…’
Listen carefully to the answer, it will tell you more than finding out why people leave. Why people don’t leave tells you the things you can work on. Embellish and develop.
Third question; What do you like most about working here? What brings joy to your work?
Is it relationships, convenience, freedom, development? You need to know what you can do more of. Turn-up-the-wick, to be an even better employer.
Remember, the best way to improve the organisation is to enhance the prospects of everyone working there.
Last question; What can we do better? If you could change one thing, what would it be? This will give you some really interesting ideas.
Ideas that will come from enthusiasts, fans of the organisation, who have a real interest in making things work better.
Ask positive people and they will give you positive answers. They have no axe to grind but they might have an important point to make.
It’s a question I often ask, ‘what could we do better‘ and there is one answer that stands out, time and again; more flexible working.
The pressures of childcare, and partners working full-time are difficult to juggle for so many colleagues. Also, let’s not forget, some frontline staff, coming to the end of their careers don’t want to work twelve-hour shifts, back-to-back.
It can be fixed; Trusts, like Milton Keynes, run two rotas; the standard one and a flexible one. It takes some working-out but they have it sorted
You need a proper definition of what flexibility means, design flexible roles and develop a flexible culture but most of all, good-will and common-sense.
Oh, and what might help, a model national contract of employment, Trusts can copy, to facilitate flexibility.
You also need software that can accommodate complex, flexibility across thousands of staff, working millions of shifts. Not something all systems can cope with.
There is also a bit about the ‘how’.
NICE have done a huge amount of work on flexible working. Search their website and you’ll find pages of evidence and ‘how-to’, including Trusts, with examples, up and running, going back years.
May I be forgiven for raising an eyebrow on hearing NHSI has recruited a ‘head of flexible working’…. who will be reporting to the head of ‘improving people practices’… who will be reporting to the ‘chief people officer’… who reports to the NHSI, Board.
All up, with employment costs and travel, call that over £300,000 a year, to figure out what you can find out for yourself on Google and a trip to see Joe Harrison, up the M1 to junction fourteen.
News and Comment from Roy Lilley