Training principle of the month 9: Morale and job satisfaction are improved

This month, Dr Sarah Arthur inspires us with case studies on how we might rethink everyday practice to improve morale and job satisfaction in teams. And, two consultants talk us through their strategies for themselves and their colleagues.
RCPCH Progress+ Training principle of the month
Last modified
13 June 2022

From children and young people

drawings of hospital equipment and appreciation of the people who work in the NHS
The best thing in the NHS? The people

Reduce working hours to allow for paediatricians more rest to look after their own mental health and retain their love for their job

RCPCH &Us 202, Scotland

We need someone to look after the staff, too! We want you to know that we know it is hard, and we know you work long hours but you are our lifesavers and that’s why we want you to be looked after as well. For the NHS 70th birthday children and young people told us what they thought of the NHS and the staff.

It would be great if there is a way that children, young people and families can get involved more so that we are also able to be part of making things better for everyone. We can all be kind, happy and support each other. It’s important that you have good teams around you and good team work too, so that you can all pass on information to each other and look out for your own mental health.

The three Ps! - video

Whatever it is we are doing at work, we are really working hard every day to make things better

Dr Dan Magnus is a Consultant in Paediatric Emergency Medicine at the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children. He talks through his three principles for helping to improve job satisfaction and to boost morale.

It's about making that human connection - video

Dr Sarah Bridges is a Consultant Paediatrician at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust. She tells us what this month's principle means to her. 

FriYAY! - case study

Setting: District general paediatric team​

What prompted the change? A junior doctor joining the team noticed that the dedicated paediatric team had a busy schedule packed with patients to see, clinics to run, educational meetings and oncalls to cover. With the high pressures on the staff, the colleague noted how hard it was to stop, how hard it was to anchor and be present and how hard it was to connect. The colleague ultimately felt there was missed opportunities to learn and missed opportunities to provide their best self.​

What happened? The colleague instigated ‘FriYay’ as a dedicated day for a team lunch with a 'no business talk' motto. Colleagues were encouraged out of offices and cake was often present. It became a platform for team bonding, announcements and social connection. A thank you for those at the end of their week and a boost for those facing the weekend on call.​

How did this support training and trainees​? Trainees described feeling valued and supported, whilst having a space to get to know each other. Connecting with each other improves relationships, and ensures a good understanding of each other. Ultimately raising workforce moral and job satisfaction.​

Any practical tips​?

  • Get key team members to encourage participation​
  • Have a low key unforced focus (many choose cake)​
  • Try to encourage ground rules of no work chat​
  • Find the time, even on the busiest of days

Any practical tips?

  • Ensure that the clinics are regular enough and rotate days to allow all trainees including those that work LTFT to access them at some point.  
  • Consider whether remote or face to face, or perhaps a hybrid model would work best for your trainees and your workplace. 

Redesigning handover - case study

Setting: Tertiary neonatal unit​

What prompted the change? Morning handover involved a ward round of the intensive care infants. Feedback highlighted a need for change to ensure a well rested team and a ward round that provided time for education, MDT collaboration and family integrated care.​

What happened? The feedback was heard; the opinion was important to the senior colleagues and the handover was redesigned. The handover is now delivered in a seminar room as a board round. This allows the night team to leave prior to the ward round, which is hugely popular and positive for the team wellbeing. The ward round is family integrated and encourages engagement from all colleagues.

How did this support training and trainees​? Being heard is hugely impactful on job satisfaction. It is also incredibly important to feel well supported at handovers and safe to ask any questions. Ensuring the basic physiological need of feeling  well rested is essential to ensuring high work morale.​

Any practical tips​? Trainee-consultant meetings are a great space to provide feedback on the training environment and come with ideas for positive change. ​Using exception reports (or hours monitoring in devolved nations) provides evidence if duties keep you late. Know how to ER and how to support their use by colleagues. 

Finding boundaries and where to go for help - training presentation

This presentation contains lots of tips on creating a better headspace to facilitate improving your job satisfaction and boosting your morale.

Find out more about what to expect from Progress+

Dr Sarah Arthur is a Neonatal Trainee and is Severn Paediatric Representative on the RCPCH Trainee Network. Sarah has done a lot of work around psychological safety and you can read more in her blog.