Human Resources & Organisational Development (HROD) Directorate

10th June 2020

The immediate challenge for HROD during the initial planning for the COVID-19 pandemic was a need for significant additional workforce support across the Trust. They needed to identify, recruit, redeploy and train staff for roles staff had never undertaken before and for new roles the Trust had never required before.  This directorate team worked tirelessly together behind the scenes to support managers and staff with these workforce challenges.  While providing this support, they also focused on ensuring the health and wellbeing of staff.

A HSC Workforce Appeal was planned and launched quickly in March.  In the space of 4 weeks, the Trust received a total of 3,503 ‘expressions of interest’ across a wide range of staff groups, from which 2,200 candidates subsequently submitted a full application form. To put these figures in context, in a 4 week period during January 2020, the Trust only received a total of 950 applications through ‘normal recruitment’!

Staff from across the directorate worked collaboratively to process as many candidates as possible to be ‘work ready’ and available for deployment where required.  The speed at which this was achieved, the willingness of staff to collaborate, learn new processes and systems, embrace new and evolving ways of working and adapt to challenges on a daily basis was hugely impressive.

They also supported professional leads in arranging the deployment of final year Medical, Nursing, Social Work and AHP students into our workforce to support our services and assisted with revised rotas and working arrangements.

This work meant this team managing over 350 additional staff on to the payroll system at the same time as implementing two pay awards in March and April and continuing the normal business of processing pay for almost 13,000 staff each month!

COVID-19 has meant that many staff are now calling Occupational Health (OH) worried about signs and symptoms, particularly those with underlying health conditions.  OH staff will initially screen you over the phone, offer advice and refer you to the pod on the Craigavon site if needed.  The helpline operating seven days a week received on average 360 calls from staff reporting Covid-19 signs or symptoms and around 273 calls for specific advice each week!   All this work would not have been achievable again without the invaluable input of the whole team including those redeployed from other HROD teams.

Increasing our workforce and redeploying staff to new roles, required immediate support for training.  Between February and April 647 new e-Learning accounts have been created and Trust staff completed 14,459 e-Learning modules (an increase of 69% on the same period in 2019).

Providing workforce management information has been critical.  Data on staff impacts has been required regionally and locally.  Daily staff absence figures help identify the impact of COVID-19 on absence levels and manage the subsequent effect on service delivery.  Our normal absence level is usually around 5% and is now somewhere between 10–11%, so it’s clear to see the impact COVID-19 is having!

The team also provided practical HR support and advice to managers through establishing a helpline for HR queries, developing interactive information and guidance and providing support in updating HRPTS.  This was recognised and very much appreciated by managers who were working in extremely challenging circumstances.

Supporting staff health and wellbeing has meant the team working closely with other teams outside the directorate including psychology, to ensure the health and wellbeing needs of staff are met.  Wellbeing posters were developed and support provided in setting up calm rooms and pause pods in both the hospital and community settings.

And of course how we could we forget about the new staff App SHSCT CONNECT! The development of the app was a result of HR, Corporate Communications and IT working together to ensure staff still have access to important links to COVID-19 information, advice and guidance on looking after their wellbeing.

This team were only able to achieve all this by bringing our values and behaviours to life #working together #excellence # compassion #openness and honesty.