Fit for the Future Podcast - Ep 7: The Culture Dashboard

Welcome to another episode of the Fit for the Future podcast.

This month, we talk to Hein Scheffer, Director of Culture, Strategy, Culture & Education about culture at EEAST and the new culture dashboard.

Episode Transcript

[Sean Bennett] Hello and welcome to this month's Fit for the Future podcast. Today I'm here with Hein Scheffer, the executive director of culture, strategy and education and, as ever, with Julie Hollings, director of communication and engagement. Today we're going to be talking about the culture dashboard. I'll hand over to Julie to ask the questions and let's get started.

[Julie Hollings] Thank you, Sean, thank you very much. So, I guess my first question is, please tell us about culture dashboard? What is it exactly Hein?

[Hein Scheffer] Thanks Julie. When we last spoke, I talked about the Task and Finish groups that are part of the culture oversight group and I wanted to develop a methodology that we can measure cultural improvement or cultural change in the organization. So, to do that I explored some academic research that was conducted by Mary Dixon-Wood and Professor Michael West and a variety of others who wrote a paper titled ‘Culture and Behaviour in the English national health services: an overview of lessons from a large multi-method study’ and from this paper I've developed a framework to measure culture. And I think it is really important to measure the improvement of the culture in the organization from where we are now versus where we are going to.

[Julie Hollings] So why do we need a dashboard exactly? What are you hoping it would tell us?

[Hein Scheffer] So, the dashboard will enable us to monitor the things that staff have told us about that are not right in the organization. So, to give you an example, out of the Task and Finish groups we have selected five elements that form part of the dashboard. Those elements are engagement, bullying and harassment, employee relations, late payments, and value and behaviours. And we have used a variety of proxies to link a percentage or a number to where we are now as an organization versus where we are in time to come that will indicate an improvement in the culture. If you don't measure it, then things seldom gets done.

[Julie Hollings] Can I just ask you, what exactly is a proxy? For anyone who's listening who might not be familiar with this term.

[Hein Scheffer] If we just take values and behaviours, as an example, I was keen for us to measure the value, how we bring alive the values and behaviours in the organization. So, looking then at each of our values within EEAST, I've used a question out of the pulse survey that acts as a proxy to measure for each of our values, so being a caring organization, teamwork, quality, respect, and honesty. I think the benefit of that, Julie, is that this will demonstrate that the pulse survey is not just yet another survey. We are actively looking at it and measuring what staff are telling us in terms of the changes we achieve, in terms of bringing our values alive in the organization.

[Julie Hollings] Thank you, Hein. So, can you tell me what exactly is included in the dashboard?

[Hein Scheffer] So, one could probably include a variety of elements to test culture in any organization but from the feedback that we've had from staff I've used engagement indicators. We are looking at bullying and harassment, we are looking at employee relations, late payments is a big issue for staff, and then obviously values and behaviours.

[Julie Hollings] Thank you. And how will the dashboard help the Trust improve?

[Hein Scheffer] If I just use engagement as an example, through this the pulse survey we have now five sets of data that goes back to 2020. We know from the last pulse survey, engagement has improved to 23 percent.  It's still not where we want it to be, but we can see that the engagement these podcasts, the discussions we have within our directorates and across the organization, does have a positive impact in terms of how staff are informed and how we engage with our workforce. So, I think it is important that we are able to articulate the improvements or not, as the case might be, in terms of those elements that feed into the culture at EEAST.

[Julie Hollings] Thank you. That all sounds quite academic, as you say, and quite high level. How does this help us in our daily roles and our daily jobs?

[Hein Scheffer] I don't think it was intended to be academic. I think what we have used is some really robust research across 71 NHS organizations, that include ambulance services, in terms of what are the key things that influence culture. Out of that we know that engagement, bullying and harassment, sickness absence, clarity of the organization, and clarity of purpose are all indicators that play into culture. What I try to do with our dashboard is to have a look at our task and finish groups that are based on direct feedback from staff. So, for example, if we can get late payments resolved then that would immediately make staff feel more valued, and I'm currently having some really helpful conversations to better understand the complexity of late payments in EEAST.

[Julie Hollings] Lovely, thank you. So, Hein, with reference to our employee relations, what exactly is the status at the moment regarding our employee relations?

[Hein Scheffer] I'm really pleased that you've asked that question Julie because our employee relations case load has improved dramatically in terms of some of the historic cases that we have dealt with and closed off. But, at the moment, we are standing for the past two months on 218 cases, which is a 18-month high. But I think it is important that staff know that if they raise concerns, as an organization we will take action. Tom Abel and a variety of the execs have spoken in the past about people's behaviours and conduct and I think it's really important, while that figure is eye-watering high, it is important that as an organization we take appropriate action to make sure that we hold everybody to account to live in line with our values and behaviours

[Julie Hollings] So, talking about values and behaviours, I'm really glad you mentioned those, how do you see the dashboard supporting the way we live our values and behaviours?

[Hein Scheffer] So, Julie, in terms of values and behaviours, we are currently measuring compliance to the Equality and Human Right Commission, that stipulates that all staff at EEAST must complete values and behaviours training. And I'm really pleased to say that at the moment we stand at 78 percent compliance. But we have to get to a hundred percent um before the end of October, so the plea is absolutely that people must complete the value and behaviours training. But if I can take the values and behaviours element a little bit further, I've also linked that to our own values within the organization and then you remember I talked in the beginning about a proxy question that I took out of the pulse survey that will then bring our internal values alive. So, for example, how does staff rate EEAST as a caring organization that proactively support health and well-being? How do staff rate EEAST in terms of teamwork or quality, respect and honesty? And all of those come out of the people pulse surveys. It is really important that we improve on our uptake on the people pulse because we absolutely use their data to tell us how we are doing as an organization.

[Julie Hollings] Yes, absolutely a really good reminder of the importance of the pulse survey, which now happen three times a year, every quarter, with the Autumn quarter being that NHS National staff survey. We know that we need to keep reporting back to people on the progress we're making and the dashboard will help us do that in terms of really laying out progress the Trust is making.

[Hein Scheffer] Absolutely, Julie. I think that the cultural dashboard is probably not a perfect tool at the moment but it is a starting point for us to measure our culture moving forward and also demonstrating, I would be very keen to share this with staff, demonstrating to staff how we measure the culture, how it compares to where we were, and giving people a positive hope for the future of EEAST. I remain optimistic about EEAST as an outstanding organization and time to come but we have to fix the culture collectively.

[Julie Hollings] Thank you. As you've been talking, Hein, the thought’s occurred to me, what do we actually mean by culture?

[Hein Scheffer] Julie, we've talked about culture quite a lot and I think it is really important to understand that culture is what you and I do, the way that we speak, the way that we write our emails, the way that we respond to each other verbally and non-verbally. All of that plays into culture. I've had a number of discussions over the past couple of weeks with staff talking about culture. I think there is a perception that culture is something that others do. It is really important to understand that culture is created by you and me, all of us within EEAST.

[Julie Hollings] Thank you. Thank you very much Hein. And for listeners I'd just add that we will be putting the culture dashboard and an article about it on Need To Know as well and on the Fit for the Future section of EAST24. So, thank you Hein. Thank you very much for bringing that to life for us. Thank you.

[Hein Scheffer] Thank you very much for having me.

Published 26th September 2022