Lovewell’s logic: The NHS’s move to greater flexibility

Last month, NHS England and Improvement appointed Jane Galloway to the position of head of flexible working.

Often reported as a highly stressful and pressurised place to work for many, the NHS’ steps to create a culture of flexibility is a positive move. In its interim people plan, published in June 2019, it committed to improve the experience of its people by developing a new offer “with our people explicitly setting out the support they can expect from the NHS as a modern employer”. One of the ways in which it aimed to achieve this was by ensuring everyone feels that they have a voice, control and influence over matters such as workload, work-life balance and flexible working.

Most of us are well used to seeing headlines centred on NHS cuts and staff shortages, so it is perhaps unsurprising that some have been quick to question the impact of enabling staff to work flexibly. Rather than merely having the potential to reduce the number of hours worked by existing staff, however, committing to a clear flexible working model with the leadership required to successfully push this through an organisation is more likely to open up alternative talent pools. Working parents or carers, for example, may be much more likely to consider working for an organsiation that openly and actively works to provide the flexibility they require.

Such a move is also likely to assist the organisation with its published aim of improving retention.

As Galloway herself asked when announcing the news of her appointment on Instagram: “For those of you with employees or who manage people, how can you build in agile, smarter or flexible working where it would be appreciated?”

On that note, this is my last blog of the year. I’d like to take the opportunity to wish you all a happy and healthy festive season. See you in 2020!

Debbie Lovewell-Tuck
Tweet: @DebbieLovewell