A Q&A with Shann Morris

Q&A with Shann Morris - CNM2 and member of the Staff Engagement Forum

The HSE’s definition for Staff Engagement is “Staff are engaged when they feel valued, are emotionally connected, fully involved, enthusiastic and committed to providing a good service…when each person knows that what they do and say matters… and makes a difference” We frequently get asked how individuals and smaller teams can be more engaged at work for their own benefit and for the benefit of their service users and patients. We recently caught up with Shann Morris, a member of the National Staff Engagement Forum to ask her some questions about her experience with Staff Engagement and how she went about creating an engaged environment in her workplace that quickly spread to other areas.

Image 1:  Shann and her poster

Q: Can you talk us through your Staff Engagement Journey so far?

I joined the National Staff Engagement Forum about eighteen months ago. I work in a stand-alone unit and I find that it can be quite isolating. I knew I needed to reach and see what was going on in the wider organisation. I am motivated by people and am a natural engager so the Forum gave me an opportunity to find like-mined people who also wanted to make a difference. So often people just keep their heads down and rush around getting the job done but don’t engage with each other. Michael West words always ring in my ears “Staff engagement which leads to proper teams reduces mortality rates in healthcare”. Without engagement there is no joy in work, no learning, no innovation and poor quality care for our clients.

Coming to the Forum was like food for the work soul. Every time I would return to work more motivated to keep going despite the problems I was facing – the Forum helped change my perspective on things. Instead of waiting for things to happen I started believing that I could be the  change and be the engager both upwards and downwards and, despite everything, develop an attitude of positivity. I have seen first-hand how invested the Executive Leadership Team are in staff Engagement and getting encouragement from these senior managers means a lot to me as a practitioner.

Six months after starting in the forum I was accepted into the HSE Leadership Academy to do my masters in Leadership in Healthcare. This is fully funded by the HSE. It has really helped me to feel engaged by the organisation as I am being equipped with the training to be a better manager/leader/team builder in my work. I feel invested in and am motivated to stay in my job.

Q: Would you say that Staff Engagement and its message has impacted you in your everyday working life?

It absolutely has. It has reinforced to me how important it is to take time to engage meaningfully with staff; to get to know them and to listen to them and their ideas. I make a real effort to engage fully everyday with all staff and it has made a difference as I’ve noticed the workplace becoming more fun, there’s better collaboration and higher standards of communication and care. Becoming involved in Staff Engagement has empowered me, making me a more confident practitioner and I’m now preaching the engagement message everywhere I go. I can really see that the organisation is invested in Staff Engagement through their Staff Surveys, the Staff Engagement toolkit, the document- “Engaging Health staff-An Action Plan 2019-2021” and of course the National Staff Engagement Forum. It has greatly increased my job satisfaction and my will to stay in the organisation.

Q: The poster you developed as part of your work with the Staff Engagement Forum is fantastic. Can you tell me about the poster and the inspiration behind it?

 We were asked in the Forum to start thinking about how we could bring staff engagement back to our work areas. I love the values in action initiative and the simplicity of the behaviours. I thought “what can I do that’s really simple but will make a difference?”. So I asked a lady I had seen on twitter (Sonia Sparkles) to design a simple pictorial about every day engaging behaviours. I have brought to the forum and am currently promoting it in my unit and in my local community area. I did a talk on it at our local quarterly meeting of Community RGNs and they were really enthused. I now have someone on board from the administration side of things to come to the forum with and she is promoting the posters and behaviours among the public Health nursing management team.

I am starting with a small simple idea as being so busy in work it’s all I can manage right now but from small things great things come. If every member adopted these simple engaging behaviours in their everyday work with each other the HSE would be a wonderful place to work!

Q: What advice would you give a colleague who wanted to bring a staff engagement idea to life?

Come to the Staff Engagement Forum and bring your ideas - they will be your support system to help you bring your ideas to life. The encouragement and support I have gotten from the NSEF has been so motivating and has inspired me to keep going because it’s so easy to get bogged down in day-to-day  work and all the issues it brings but the positivity from Vera and her team has been second to none and has really sustained me.

Remember the absolute importance of Staff Engagement and be persistent and keep going but know your limits and look after yourself in the middle of it all.