20 September 2017

Enjoying Work

‘Enjoying Work’ Workstream Update

In previous newsletters, we shared some of the Trust-wide priority areas that are being tackled collaboratively by several teams using QI (Quality Improvement) as the design framework. One such work-stream is “Enjoying Work”. Feedback from staff through different avenues, including the annual staff survey, has highlighted the need to improve the experience of staff working across the East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT). A handful of teams started to work at addressing the issue of staff satisfaction and morale by running improvement projects. There is a wave of interest internationally in bringing back joy in work1.

Why it’s Important:

In addition to running appreciative enquiries with some teams, a survey was sent to all staff in early 2017 to gauge what matters to them. What came out of that exercise was astonishing. There was a lot of emphasis on needing to rebuild meaning, teamwork, trust and embrace new ways of working. The responses received from eighty-five survey responders and three services were used to create the wordcloud that is now the symbol of this work.

Who is involved:

Five teams from a variety of the Trust’s services have volunteered to be prototype teams for the Enjoying Work workstream. These teams were either already working on this problem or volunteered to get involved. The five teams also represent some of the different type of work environments in ELFT, they are:

  • Highly mobile staff: West Locality EPCT (Enhanced Primary Care Team)
  • Geographically dispersed: Luton IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies)
  • Geographically centralised: Isle of Dogs CMHT (Community Mental Health Team)
  • Corporate: Quality Improvement Team
  • Inpatient: Millhabour Ward

Each service has established a project team which consists of staff from that service. They also have a local sponsor from the directorate management team, a Quality Improvement Advisor to coach them and a named Business Partner from the Human Resources/Organisation Development team. Mason Fitzgerald, Director of Corporate Affairs, is the executive sponsor for the workstream from the Trust Board.

This work will also be linked to other work taking place across the organisation on leadership development and compassionate leadership. We are also keeping in contact with other organisations that are doing this type of work to collaborate and learn from each other. We have also adopted the change ideas and change concepts identified by the IHI (Institute for Healthcare Improvement) in their recently published framework for improving joy in work in healthcare organisations2. Some of these will be tested by the prototype teams together with their locally generated change ideas.

What they are doing:

In the preliminary stages of the work, the prototype teams have been testing how best to approach this work in terms of measurement, appreciative enquiry, defining the problem and testing change ideas.

Some of the prototype teams are still collecting baseline data which will help us set a global aim for this work. We expect that the learning that comes from the teams doing this work will be scaled up to the rest of the organisation as we build confidence in the approaches and changes being tested.

Colleagues from Human Resources and Organisation Development will also be working closely with these prototype teams to test out the new Business Partner model of supporting teams and leaders in tackling specific challenges when leading and delivering services. You can also read in this newsletter about the events that took place in September with more than 200 staff, with Professor Steve Swensen who has led much of the research and work internationally on understanding staff burnout, team engagement, joy in work and quality improvement.

What can you do?:

After the publication of the annual staff survey, many teams make an action plan to address some of the issues which come to light. This also tends to happen throughout the year following team away days and other occasions. At ELFT, improvement has always been part of our DNA and we know that most problems can, and are, being solved without necessarily starting a formal QI project. We would love to hear about what you have tried in your team and what you have learnt while trying to improve staff enjoyment of work. In addition, if you would like to test out some of the tools that the prototype teams have developed for carrying out an appreciative enquiry, or the simple measurement tools, please get in touch. Drop us an email at elft.qi@nhs.net with the subject line “Enjoying Work”.


1Feeley D, Swensen SJ. Restoring joy in work for the healthcare workforce. Healthcare Executive. 2016 Sept;31(5):70-71.

2Perlo J, Balik B, Swensen S, Kabcenell A, Landsman J, Feeley D. IHI Framework for Improving Joy in Work. IHI White Paper. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Institute for Healthcare Improvement; 2017.

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  • YesNo
  • 12345
    1 = poor | 5 = great
  • 12345
    1 = not useful at all | 5 = very useful


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