London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust partner with SMRS to launch “Whole Hearted not Faint Hearted” brand

 

Carl du Plessis, Deputy HR Director of London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust, shares with Ri5 what they've been doing alongside SMRS on the Trust’s branding work .

Carl, can you tell us a little about your background?

Having initially had a career in retail management I then moved into a recruitment role (starting with agency then in-house). From starting at the bottom, I worked my way up into a Head of Resourcing role, then wider Talent and now a Deputy HR Director. What perhaps makes me a little unusual is the variety of industries and sectors I have worked in, both private and public (in the case of Royal Mail, public and private as I was there during the IPO), from banking to business services, civil service to healthcare. This variety means I have brought an element of private sector thinking to the NHS.

Introduce us to London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust

Established on 1 October 2014 from the merger of two Trusts, we are one of the largest integrated healthcare trusts in the country, providing hospital and community services to the people of Harrow, Brent, Ealing and beyond. 

Our team of 9,000 clinical and support staff serve a diverse population of approximately one million people.

How long have you been working with SMRS?

This is my second time working with SMRS, having worked with them in a previous role a few years ago. That said, they did need to tender for this work and were chosen by a wider team of assessors.

When did you first start working on the new employer brand and how did it evolve?

It was clear from the moment I got into my role that the NHS has a huge employer brand. As a Trust however, we had nothing that would let people know why we are different to other Trusts or provide compelling reasons why existing NHS staff should come to us. In most cases NHS Trusts will sell the facts, location, how big or small they are, what they do etc. They will also tell you that they care, but then all of the NHS care and we were no different.

Being a London Trust we have a huge amount of competition from other Trusts around us and potential staff have a choice, so we need to articulate who we are and what it is like to work here, what our employees can expect from us and what we expect from them. When this is done, potential employees can make an informed choice to apply, knowing we are the type of place they want to work and can deliver what they're looking for from an employer.  

What was the original brief?

All organisations have a brand already, it's a matter of pulling it together and controlling it. Our initial brief for SMRS was to pull together all of the attributes that make our employer brand through talking with our staff, managers and executives. Then take these attributes and convert them into a tone of voice and creative concepts to fully articulate our Employee Value Proposition to current and potential staff.

We needed to show what we were as a Trust. People already know about the NHS - the caring, compassionate work, etc. This was not about getting people to work in the NHS, it was about getting people to work for us.

What challenges did you have and how have you overcome them?

Initially getting internal buy-in was difficult. Firstly, there is a cost and as a Trust, money is tight. Secondly, there are very few, if any, NHS Trusts that have fully developed EVP and Employer Brand so this was new to most of my stakeholders. They knew we needed one but weren't entirely sure how they are developed and then used. This did require a level of educating on my side for some and for my team upskilling, so they knew what to do with the brand once it was developed. Once this was done the only other challenge was setting the expectation on how long this takes as everyone wanted it yesterday.

Talk us through the results

We now have a defined brand “Whole Hearted not Faint Hearted” and a toolkit with all the collateral we need to push the brand through all of our marketing channels online, offline, at events, etc. This is now being used across all our platforms and early indications are positive. Social media advertising is getting 3 times more engagement from the public by either liking or sharing our posts and 2 times the number of hires is attributed to the new brand advertising.

When did it launch?

Whilst we would have liked to have done a big launch, the need to get this out quick meant in June 2018 we did a soft launch with some poster advertising for nursing staff. We have then steadily rolled out across all of our channels and communication material with prospective candidates – job descriptions, Interview packs, etc. Due to a relaunch of our Trust website, the employer brand is not fully implemented in current careers pages but will be shortly. 

Looking back, is there anything you’d do differently? 

Ideally, I would have liked to do a big bang launch and perhaps should have waited and pushed for it. This would have of course given us and the brand more publicity, however the main reason would be that the message is so strong that internally it would have driven wider staff engagement. 

What’s next for the trust?

The next thing is of course the launch of the careers portal when the new Trust website goes live. We have also just recently conducted another photo shoot with a new group of staff to refresh imagery.

We also need to grow our brand ambassadors, get more of our staff talking online about all the great things we're doing here to get people engaged with us as a Trust. So, when we do advertise they are already keen to join.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

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London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust partner with SMRS to launch “Whole Hearted not Faint Hearted” brand
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