Heather Morgan, Director of People and Planning at Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity says small changes can add up to a big difference when engaging employees with a cause on their doorstep.
Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity raises money to support the world famous hospital – our efforts help fund pioneering medical research, state-of-the-art medical equipment, support services for patients and their families, and parent accommodation so mums and dads can stay close by when their children are receiving lifesaving treatment. As far as causes go, Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) is an incredible one to support.
As an HR director my role is based in the charity’s office close to the hospital, supporting and empowering our employees to deliver the very best for GOSH. But even with such an incredible cause so close by, we still need to work hard to promote the highest level of understanding and engagement across the charity to deliver the funds to meet the hospital’s growing need and support seriously ill children from across the UK. So how does employee engagement help us to bridge the gap?
Keeping in touch when the cause is around the corner
We start as we mean to go on; taking every opportunity to show our employees the difference they make to GOSH by working for its charity. New starters receive an induction tour of the hospital and we treat them with the same care and respect as we would a charitable donor. We tell them why we need to raise money by showing how it makes such a difference. They get a chance to see, in person, what they are contributing to. It’s something I’d urge all charities to consider implementing at key moments during the year as a personal, face-to-face experience of the cause is an undeniable effective way to generate engagement from employees. I know that we are very fortunate in this respect.
This ethos continues at every opportunity we have, for example we recently invited a family who had been at the heart of our recent ‘Back to School’ campaign to share their experiences at our all staff mid-year review. This meant colleagues who may have built a page on our website to host the family’s story, or who set up the finance mechanisms to record money donated through the campaign, had an opportunity to meet and hear from this family whose children were cared for at GOSH. We also took the opportunity to invite a GOSH clinician at the very forefront of his field to speak. Everyone left feeling excited about an area of medical innovation and excellence, and inspired after hearing the moving experiences of the family. I believe our efforts lead to employees who share the level of excitement, commitment, and engagement with the cause that our incredible supporters and donors have as well. And importantly for a charity, this kind of engagement can be delivered in an incredibly cost effective way.
Developing leadership at all levels
While it is important for a charity to have a strong leadership team in place to engage their workforce, one thing we are keen to convey is that leadership isn’t only for those at the very top. We have a leadership programme that every single employee can be involved with, no matter their level or experience. This forum is creating a roadmap for how we embed a culture of leadership across our organisation and involving our staff at the heart of this enables an even more engaged and motivated workforce. For example team members are encouraged to attend each other’s team meetings to share updates and feedback to their own peers. Communications and decisions are shared across team, not just ‘top down’. As a qualified coach I also work with groups of senior managers and department heads to develop their coaching and mentoring skills, and they in turn can better support and develop members of their team. Our leadership programme shows there is a chance for everyone to be heard, to work on their personal development, and in my opinion, this leads to an empowered and enabled workforce which are vital components of delivering employee engagement.
How do you know you’ve hit the right balance?
We aim to deliver regular opportunities for our charity staff to spend time with hospital staff and patients, look to upskill people across all levels of the charity and empower them to feel like leaders. I believe these ongoing, organic changes will help us to meet our ambition of having an engaged and enabled workforce and will move the charity from a ‘good’ organisation, to one that is ‘great’ to work for, and which delivers great results.
Reviewing levels and success of employee engagement comes down to more than hard retention figures, although those are important to monitor. It’s a feeling, a culture you create where staff look forward to coming to work each day. I hope that everyone who does eventually choose to leave GOSH Charity when the time is right for them will do so after a fantastic experience. It will be because they feel a ‘pull’ to another cause, or to a different challenge, much in the same way I know they will have felt a pull to join the GOSH Charity team. Ultimately, I’d like for them to leave as great ambassadors for the charity and hope that in the future, we may welcome them back with an expanded set of skills and experiences to help us deliver the very best results for the patients and families cared for at Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Heather Morgan is the Director of People and Planning at Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity. She has experience across a range of sectors and organisations including FMCG, telecoms, private equity, risk advisory and not-for profit. Heather has a PhD in organisational psychology, is a Fellow of the CIPD and she is a trustee of two charities in the UK and India.