The Holly Private Hospital Invests in Excellence

Winning an incredible 4 gold awards at the UK Employee Experience Awards 2018, it is clear that the Holly Private Hospital is dedicated to creating an employee-centric culture.

With 500 staff members and 200 consultants, Essex-based Holly Private Hospital provides outpatient medical services to about 10,000 patients each month. The hospital’s primary goals are patient health, safety, and satisfaction.

When hospital leadership introduced a five-year plan to grow the business and improve medical care, they put staff engagement and achievement at the centre of the initiative. Managers made patient service the heart of what each staff member does, from the clean-up crew and administrative aides to medical technicians, specialists, and physicians.

They called the initiative ‘Project First’. The plan includes a five-year business plan and clinical strategy, an employee reward and recognition plan called the 6Es, and programmes to promote a culture based on teamwork, trust, accountability, autonomy, managed risk, transparency, and fun. At the same time, management launched the Aspen People Academy, a bespoke staff-development programme intended to help the hospital retain staff members, train them, and nurture future leaders.

Embracing Change

The story starts in 2013 when Holly invested £23M in a major expansion project. Revenues rose as the hospital served more patients, but costs rose even faster. It became clear that existing systems needed an update to keep up with the hospital’s growth. In 2016, a newly installed senior management team accepted the challenge.

The 6Es programme is the heart of Holly’s initiative to boost employee engagement and efficiency. The hospital awards certificates and other benefits to staff members who have embodied exemplary behaviour.

Staff members earn certificates and stamps in their Project First passports by exhibiting behaviour that is expert, energetic, exceptional, efficient, effective, and emphasizes everyone’s safety.

To earn 6Es certificates, staff members must be nominated by a colleague or manager. Nominations explain why and how the nominee’s behaviour supports one or more of the 6Es. Project First board members review nominations, and winners are invited to lunch each Friday to collect their certificates.

Passport stamps, a higher honour, are awarded to those who have earned multiple certificates in the category or who have received a special nomination for long-term excellent performance.

An employee who earns stamps for all 6Es and three related performance benchmarks receives a Project First “I am exceptional healthcare” pin, an invitation to a special celebration dinner, and an entry into a prize drawing for a luxury holiday. The company holds an annual black-tie “Oscars” party to reward outstanding performance.

The Aspen People Academy, which has run concurrently, is intended to support employees as they grow in their careers. For example, nursing managers and others are supported as they work toward academic degrees that will qualify them for promotions. Safety training is widespread. Courses in management and leadership are offered to promising staff members. And the company supports peer-to-peer training at regular “experteas.”

Reaping the Rewards

In the first year of Project First and the 6Es, Holly awarded 1,550 certificates to staff members for outstanding work. Thirty employees were recognised for major outstanding performance at the annual Oscars Dinner. The 6Es programme helps the hospital to accomplish three important goals:

It summarises the hospital’s core values regarding patient service in a succinct, memorable way.

It boosts employee engagement by giving them tangible rewards for helping support the hospital’s goals.

It has helped Holly provide efficient, highly rated service to patients – a result that can be measured on the bottom line.

A November 2017 staff survey found that 84% of hospital employees say they are proud to work at Holly. The same number say they enjoy their jobs. Satisfaction with training and development programmes is at 70%, with 65% giving communication across the hospital a thumbs-up. All of these figures show significant improvements compared to a 2015 survey.

Staff absences due to illness, which sometimes topped 5% in 2015, dropped to 3.6% after the 6Es programme was put in place. Staff turnover dropped to its lowest-ever rate, and staff members joined the hospital’s recruitment team, with 42 new staff members joining the hospital through referrals from current employees. Recruitment costs have dropped 52%.

Industry regulators have rated Holly “good” with “outstanding” leadership, noting that “there were systems in place to engage staff at all levels and recognise commitment and achievement.”

Best of all, patient satisfaction rates have risen in every category, from nursing care and diagnostics to pharmacy and catering. “Everyone looking after me was so nice,” one patient reported. “It almost made a painful experience enjoyable.”


Do you have an employee experience success story that you could receive external recognition for? Set yo urself apart from the competition by entering the UK Employee Experience Awards 2019. Now open for entries. Click here to see the categories and enter online now.