• Milton Keynes University Hospital FT will provide free car-parking and build a new car park for staff
  • Chief executive Joe Harrison said there will be a focus on flexible working using e-rostering
  • Mr Harrison said important for trusts not to have to “seek permission” from the centre

An acute trust has started rolling a out a three-year programme designed to boost staff well-being and aid recruitment.

Milton Keynes University Hospital Foundation Trust launched its staff benefits programme this week, which will encompass different initiatives in its first year of running.

The benefits will include free car-parking for staff and a newly built staff car-park to guarantee spaces. It will launch a ‘green’ travel plan that will include bike facilities, lockers and showers.

Chief executive Joe Harrison said: “We will make sure we accommodate anyone who wants to come to work with different transport.”

The trust will also provide free tea, coffee and access to water coolers and a commitment to invest in staff rooms and encouraging staff to take breaks.

Mr Harrison said the trust’s board set out around Christmas to make Milton Keynes FT an employer of choice, after “the dial hadn’t moved” on its staff survey.

“We did our own staff survey and asked staff to tell us what they want,” Mr Harrison said.

Part of the programme this year will include expanding the ability to work flexibly, greater acces to personal leave and “changing the position” of having to justify flexible working.

“The millennials coming through are going to demand the work-life balance we don’t offer in the NHS,” Mr Harrison said.

Mr Harrison stressed that the trust intends to “wrap technology” around the workforce programme too. “We’ve got a staff e-rostering system on an app for staff that allows us to do a lot of the flexible working stuff,” he said.

He said the final element of the plan in the first year is to enhance the staff-wellbeing and occupational health service, as the biggest reasons for sickness absence are musculoskeletal problems and stress.

“We want staff to be well so they can come to work,” he said. “A lot of organisations have done some of these things, but not a lot have said workforce is front and centre,” he added.

In years two and three of the programme the trust is currently negotiating with businesses locally to agree gym membership benefits, free cinema tickets and travel loans, among other internal measures such as buying and selling annual leave.

Mr Harrison stressed that in each region the workforce will have its different needs and the key is “local freedom and autonomy without having to seek permission [from the centre]”.

“This is really powerful,” Mr Harrison said. “I think organisations have been a bit resistant or in a position where they are reliant on things coming out of the centre”.

“There is an opportunity now with the new workforce agenda for organisations to say ‘we really want to do this’”, he said.

He stressed the links between workforce and technology are critical and said there is support nationally to bring those two strands together.

“There is recognition that workforce needs have changed, are changing and will continue to change,” he said. “If that comes out [of the interim plan] as a very clear signal, that is really positive.”