I really enjoy talking at ELFT staff induction. It is a great opportunity to meet new staff at the beginning of their time in the Trust and convey a few key things. Namely, to pass all media enquiries to the communications team; think about their social media settings; to call us if they can’t find an item on the intranet by the third click; and to read the weekly bulletin – to save them getting lots of random emails about individual topics!
But mostly, I view it as the beginning of a relationship. I want them to know we are friendly, approachable, and that we are here to help them do their job looking after service users and their families. But I also want them to know how much we try to communicate with them intelligently with an awareness that most do not sit in front of a computer.
When I was a district nurse, and returned to my base at lunchtime, I didn’t come to my computer to read the latest intranet story or corporate newsletter. More likely I needed to email a social worker, or get a GP’s number, contact a ward to discuss a patient’s admission or discharge, write a letter or type up records. Nowadays, many of our staff go straight to key programmes on an iPad while sitting in their car. So in our team, we know that we have a tiny window to grab their attention in the middle of a busy day when they have other things on their minds. So a catchy title or a quirky picture is often the name of the game.
But we won’t have all the answers so I’ve visited communication teams in other trusts and other industries to see how they communicate with staff on the sales floor, drivers, etc. Mostly, we are all doing similar activities, but we’ve borrowed some of their ideas to add to ours, and shared some of our learning with them.
Like most comms teams, we use analytics to find out the best day of the week that staff are most likely to read a bulletin (It was Wednesday for ELFT) and the type of stories they are most likely to read. (Job vacancies always have the highest number of hits! Followed by human interest stories about fellow colleagues. And oddly, in mid December, a three bedroom house to rent advertised on our online Noticeboard surpassed Job vacancies. These three items tells you what matters to our staff!)
But you can’t beat face-to-face communication in a setting such as the Staff Induction Day, telling stories or anecdotes to explain something important, and making them laugh to make a point. Does it make a difference? Feedback can range from “Found this an interesting and thought-provoking session” to “Didn’t feel relevant to my work.” Well, you can’t please all the people all of the time!
But at a service launch the other day, I got talking to a member of staff who said she remembered me from the Staff Induction. I laughed and said I hoped I hadn’t been too dull.
She said no, she really enjoyed it and remembered me saying to try and set aside time to read the weekly bulletin to get up to date on Trust news in one go. And she said she always does!
Music to my ears. One down, 4,499 to go!