Published on: 17 June 2022

Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has been shortlisted for an award at the CIPD People Management Awards 2022 for the way it engaged with its employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Trust, which provides NHS services including mental health services, neurodevelopmental services, drug and alcohol services and children’s services, has been shortlisted for the Best Employee Experience Initiative award for its ‘people first’ approach during the pandemic, when it introduced a range of opportunities for colleagues to feel heard and made a committed effort to focus on colleagues’ health and wellbeing.

As a result, a survey in August 2020 found that 96% of colleagues felt well informed during the pandemic and 85% felt supported, and the Trust went on to secure its best ever staff survey results in 2021 – and some of the best survey results of any comparable NHS organisation.

The Best Employee Experience Initiative award celebrates efforts to boost employee engagement and wellbeing, to encourage staff to voice their ideas and concerns, and awards those who have built strong relationships between central management and employees at all levels, to work collaboratively and champion a team ethos. 

The Trust’s nomination was supported by Jaki Lowe, Director of People and Inclusion at Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. 

Jaki said: “We’re extremely pleased to have been recognised for our employee engagement strategy to improve staff experience and wellbeing across the Trust. 

"With the pressures of the pandemic, it felt important to include colleagues in all communications and decisions as well as support them where needed with our wellbeing offering. 

“The Trust provided a range of regular two-way communications and live virtual events so that colleagues could ask questions, share ideas and feel informed and involved.  To boost morale and express appreciation, the Trust also reviewed and increased its reward and recognition programme throughout the year by providing regular small ‘thank-yous’ to colleagues. In December 2020, each of the Trust’s 2,500 colleagues received a personal handwritten thank you note from our Chief Executive to thank them for their role in the pandemic.  This was followed in December 2021 with a hand-signed certificate, in recognition of colleagues’ service throughout the pandemic.

“Despite many challenges, this approach helped to build a greater sense of trust and engagement across the organisation.”

Carly Roe, Operational Manager at the Trust’s Kedleston Unit, joined Derbyshire Healthcare during the pandemic after having previously worked for another Trust.

She said: “The nomination is well deserved. As a Derbyshire Healthcare employee, I have valued the emphasis on reward and recognition and being able to have direct communications with senior leaders.

“The Trust’s commitment to employee engagement and wellbeing makes Derbyshire Healthcare a fantastic organisation to work for.”

The award winners will be announced on 22 September at Grosvenor Hotel in London during a black-tie ceremony. 

Derbyshire Healthcare has now been shortlisted for two national awards in the last two weeks, having also been named as a finalist at the national NHS Parliamentary Awards for providing a specialist COVID vaccination service for people with learning disabilities and autism and people using the Trust’s mental health services who felt anxious about visiting large vaccination centres.