Annual integrated report 2011

Our people: UK

GHG is committed to creating a working environment that attracts, develops and retains talented individuals, and obtaining community recognition as a responsible employer.


Challenging market conditions, including uncertainty around healthcare policy, have highlighted the need to keep the cost base stable and prevent the attrition of specialist staff. These conditions accorded with our priorities for 2011, which included corporate cost reduction and operational benchmarking to ensure a cost effective and consistent structure.

Under these circumstances, maintaining morale and motivation is even more important and requires a variety of approaches including communication, incentives, rewards and engagement programmes. In the past year we have made definitive effort in this regard.

In addition, a new leadership structure was introduced, with Stephen Collier taking over as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) on 31 May 2011. The structural changes introduced by the CEO provided the opportunity to strengthen the leadership team. The more inclusive structure has enhanced potential succession opportunities for a second tier of senior management.

Employee distribution

The number of employees decreased by 2.4% following a restructuring exercise that reduced seven regions to four. This enabled us to increase consistency across sites, and deliver year-on-year cost savings. The restructuring was supported by the development of our professional infrastructure and talent over the last three years. It has enabled us to devolve accountability for delivery of business targets and relationship building to the local hospital level.

To ensure the success of the restructuring, we recognised the need for high calibre management and the creation of succession strategies to direct senior-level career paths. The relevant programmes are in place and we are confident of being able to grow our own future leaders.

Employee turnover

  2011   2010  

Permanent employees at the beginning of the year

8 234   8 270  
Increased: 1 330   1 644  
– Appointments   1 330   1 339  
– Due to acquisitions       305  
Decreased: 1 530   1 680  
– Resignations   940   914  
– Retirements   75   70  
– Dismissals   113   84  
– Deaths   10   6  
– Redundancies   255   202  
– Other   137   404  
Permanent employees at the end of the year 8 034   8 234  
Annual employee turnover % 19.0   20.4  

Employee profile at 30 September 2011

Recruitment cost reduction

The recruitment cost reduction programme was a great success. This year we focused on reducing permanent and contract recruitment agency introduction fees. We rationalised the number of agencies on our preferred supplier list (PSL) to 36 from 90, achieving better terms and conditions with these suppliers and generating significant savings.

We also rolled out a direct recruitment and sourcing model to ensure greater self-sufficiency in recruitment, with less reliance on agencies and providing a better candidate experience.

Employee attraction and retention

There has been strong emphasis placed on the package of benefits available to employees. This includes private medical cover, friends and family discounts, free health assessments, discounted gym and fitness class membership, a confidential counselling and advice helpline, and life insurance. In addition, we have delivered a portfolio of low- or no-cost initiatives to recognise and reward employees, including Christmas chocolates, gifts for international nurses' day, a cycle to work scheme, restaurant vouchers and bonus bonds. We also encourage staff to get involved in community and charity initiatives such as workplace giving schemes and participating in national charity events.

The Night of the Stars awards recognise exceptional staff contribution. A monthly award scheme operates throughout the year, culminating in identifying the Carer of the Year. The scheme provides a monthly opportunity to acknowledge examples of extraordinary commitment to patients and colleagues. Annual awards include the Tell the World award for community outreach, the Star Idea award, the Best Patient Care award, the EcoNomics green award, the Star Team award, the Florence Nightingale award and the Star Hospital award.

The Night of the Stars gala event last year was held at the Renaissance Chancery Court Hotel in London, and celebrated the exceptional care, service, initiative and team spirit of our staff.

Training and development

Our vision is to unleash the power of our people cost effectively and competitively, making us a powerful force for rapid change. Our people strategy drives us to understand the strategic capabilities we need, to create a talent pipeline and to 'think national and act local'.

GHG's commitment to developing high-quality talent continued with a refreshed and updated management programme. Designed to strengthen skills and knowledge, and build managers' confidence in team management and motivation, the programme reinforces a culture of devolved decision-making and involvement. The pilot Heads of Department Development Programme proved to be very successful and is being rolled out more widely. It aims to challenge, support and develop talented people with high potential, and in turn create an internal succession pool for senior management roles.

Our Skillport online learning system for mandatory training was also successful, resulting in higher rates of training and helping to achieve compliance standards at our hospitals.

Mandatory training days almost doubled, with 117 402 e-learning modules delivered, up from 68 480 the year before. In total, 30 019 training days were delivered.

A new, more flexible online learning system, which enables staff to complete their mandatory training online either at work or at home, is being piloted. The Totara system will replace Skillport to become the single point of access for all learning and development needs. A more user-friendly option, it provides for greater training and learning opportunities as well as improved transparency and clarity from a management perspective.

Our nursing training highlights include:

  • Hospital infection and control reviews and training at 57 sites;
  • Hospital transfusion link practitioner education days at 37 sites;
  • Pathways now in place at nearly all of our hospitals, and retraining needs have been identified;
  • Labour management reviews conducted in relation to skills, competencies and development paths; and
  • Best practice forums held in paediatrics, pathways, oncology, risk assessment, endoscopy, critical care and tissues viability.

Employee engagement and communication

Engagement and communication were a key priority for the year. In the light of the restructuring, the uplift in staff satisfaction is particularly satisfying and suggests that we are managing to empower the regions and make full use of the infrastructure created over the last four years.

Pulse survey

The 2011 GHG staff 'pulse survey' was completed by nearly 6 500 staff from across the country. Almost 75% of staff reported that they enjoyed working for the company either most or nearly all of the time. Despite the restructuring, this showed a pleasing improvement on last year's survey in which 60% of staff reported an equivalent level of satisfaction. The overwhelming majority of staff (over 80%) said they would recommend GHG as a place to work, a very positive outcome.

Information sharing

The launch of Collaboration, GHG's new intranet, provides staff with a portal capable of personalisation according to role, region and project involvement. The flexibility of the system allows real-time dialogue, information sharing and collaboration across functional groups. User-driven content has facilitated increased knowledge sharing and the 'Gatekeeper' function allows for key information to be shared efficiently with hospital executive directors without duplication. Participation in decisionmaking, best practice discussions and collaborative ways of working have already been enhanced as a result of this system.

Occupational health and safety

In light of the restructuring, the occupational health and safety (OHS) priority was to ensure availability of a consistent and competent resource for the day-to-day supervision of health and safety issues in addition to a number of major building projects.

To ensure that appropriate skills are available on a longer term basis, an Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) accredited course was developed by the Group Quality and Risk Manager for Health and Safety. This has been delivered to a significant number of staff over the year and this rollout will continue.

Looking ahead

  • Focus on talent development and retention, particularly in highly skilled and specialist areas. This will involve developing the talent programme and creating strong career paths.
  • Employee engagement, with continued focus on clear communication and feedback.
  • Develop a statement that describes our cultural and clinical ethos, supported by a focused approach to excellence in nursing training, quality and integrity in values
    and behaviours.
  • Consolidate the human resources department's responsibility for integrated internal and external communication. This will enable us to unify messaging through staff, consultants and external media.