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Serco Cares 2: Empowering colleagues and enhancing outcomes through compassion

Our people contribute to the wellbeing of patients in hospitals around the world – helping to create safe and efficient healthcare environments and support clinical practice and patient experience. 

In 2021, we launched the second phase of our award-winning Serco Cares programme, which encourages Serco healthcare colleagues to think differently about the value they bring to their roles and the difference they make. This second phase, titled ‘Managing teams with compassion’, shifts the focus up the chain from employees and their impact on service stakeholders, to managers and their impact on employees. 

“Serco Cares is our way of embedding a culture where all our people are empowered, motivated and clear about how they positively impact the healthcare environment,” says Stephanie Gray-Roberts, Serco Clinical & Safety Director. “The way in which our people managers interact with their teams is key to achieving that.” 

Since 2017, more than 5,500 Serco employees across 11 UK sites have completed Serco Cares workshops. Working groups at each site now review new ideas for enhancing service outcomes every month, feeding up to a national Serco Cares Collaboration Group, with more than 3,000 ideas generated to date and many already embedded in everyday operations. In March 2021, for example, we introduced ‘the Carer’s cup’ for visitors and volunteer members of the public who sit with patients, often for hours on end. 

“We know it can be tough for carers,” says Stephanie, “especially those caring for elderly patients and those with complex needs. These mugs, which entitle the bearer to free drinks, are a simple but meaningful gesture to let carers know they are valued and make their time at the bedside more comfortable.” 

Response to Serco Cares among stakeholders – from the NHS and academics to relatives and local communities – has been positive, with colleague-generated innovations warmly received and even winning awards. 

“I have approached interactions with patients in a much more focused and conscious way,” commented a Serco Building Support Assistant in 2021. “Sparking conversation is a skill, and your course prompted me to spend time practicing that skill. Today a nurse told me I was welcome back for raising patients’ spirits – a huge compliment. The conversations also help to keep me emotionally connected to why I work in hospitals: the people.” 

While Phase 1 focused on bringing the Serco Cares difference to life, Phase 2 has targeted people managers and how they can better create environments of compassion and kindness in which their teams, and Serco Cares, can thrive. 

“How can we ask people to care if they don’t feel cared for?” says Stephanie. “Getting the best from people and making them feel valued can be challenging. It takes skills that don’t always come naturally and aren’t always taught. Until now.” 

To date, more than 60% of our UK healthcare manager population – including the executive management team – have completed Phase 2 training: four 2-hour courses covering such topics as listening skills, psychological safety, emotional intelligence, everyday feedback, and unconscious bias. 

Professor Mike Thomas, Chair of an NHS Foundation Trust and an internationally respected expert on compassionate leadership, said: “Innovations such as these allow leaders at every level to develop shared understandings and enhance people skills, and embed the values of compassion, dignity, respect and engagement as part of all managers’ core competencies.”