Pinnacle Midlands Health Network has recently been announced as a finalist in the prestigious 2018 New Zealand human resource awards to be held at SkyCity in Auckland this month.
Pinnacle MHN is one of just four companies in New Zealand to be selected as a finalist in the annual awards' workplace engagement programme of the year initiative, alongside Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), Mercury and Westpac.
Run by the Human Resources Institute of New Zealand (HRINZ) in association with Human Synergistics, the NZ HR Awards are designed to recognise excellence and outstanding achievement within New Zealand's HR community.
The workplace engagement programme of the year award specifically looks for initiatives that demonstrate significant improvement in workforce engagement. Pinnacle MHN was selected as a finalist for its five-month long Coast to Coast initiative.
"We're always focussed on supporting our practices to deliver great health outcomes for patients, that's our number one purpose. But as a company we went through quite a rapid period of growth and structural changes.
"That rapid growth meant our internal systems and processes weren't as effective as they could be. We knew working together to address some of these challenges would be a great way to enhance the sense of shared purpose and comradery for our staff," says David Oldershaw, Pinnacle Midlands Health Network chief executive.
In October 2016 Pinnacle developed the Coast to Coast programme - a dedicated workforce programme, involving staff in the solutions from start to finish.
"The Coast to Coast is a never-been-done-before workforce engagement programme, involving our people as creatively as possible to improve two things - staff engagement and our systems and processes," says human resources director, Tammy Hebditch.
The programme involved 145 Pinnacle MHN employees across all four localities: Waikato, Lakes, Taranaki and Tair?whiti. Headed up by Tammy Hebditch and project office manager Pip Oatham, the Coast to Coast was planned to be a 'fluid' project, actively changing and responding to staff feedback as it progressed.
"Think of the Coast to Coast as a friendly race. Staff were divided into 14 teams, each tasked with an organisational 'problem' to work on," says Pip. "We came up with topics for the teams to tackle, based on months of conversations with staff about culture, systems and processes.
"Examples include Team One Team looking at the perceived disconnect between localities, or Team Knowledge looking at how we can best maintain knowledge when staff leave the organisation," says Pip.
For the next five-months, the 14 teams engaged closely with one another - during three dedicated half-day project time-slots allocated by Pinnacle MHN, through a new private Facebook group for staff, and at their leisure - to develop solutions to their problem and plan for the implementation of their solutions.
At three points along the way teams shared their progress with the leadership team to collaborate and sharpen ideas.
The race also featured a series of fun competitions such as quizzes and puzzles. Winners moved forward on a large printed 'map', with a major prize awarded to the first team to get from New Plymouth to Gisborne - from one side of the company's general practice network to the other.
The Coast to Coast race wrapped up with each team creatively presenting their solutions to the entire organisation, including board members, at a vibrant expo afternoon in Hamilton, followed by a good old fashioned Kiwi get together complete with BBQ and a social awards celebration.
Although the Coast to Coast race technically wrapped-up in April 2017, Pinnacle MHN staff continue to feel the wide-reaching benefits of the project.
Out of the many solutions generated a whopping 77 gained endorsement from leadership, with resources and time allocated to a smaller 'implementation team' to make things happen. As at December 2017, 56 initiatives have been completed, with the remaining larger pieces of work still underway.
The Coast to Coast private Facebook group is still alive and kicking. Building from the original 84 members, there are now 101 members with regular requests to join still coming in, and engagement at continuing high levels.
"Our whole new cultural shift started with Coast to Coast" says Pinnacle MHN nurse lead Hilde Mullins. "There was a believable sense that all staff were important and our ideas were valuable. If this was to be successful and embedded, then a partnership approach had to be taken within the organisation, using our values as the foundation for everything we were doing."
Pinnacle MHN medical director, Dr Jo Scott Jones agrees. "I joined the organisation just as the race was winding up. I was blown away to see an organisation empower staff in such a way. It made me realise this was a place I definitely wanted to be a part of.
"I regularly enjoy sharing quirky photos in the Facebook group from my travels around our locality offices. It is a really cool way to connect. I've also been lucky to benefit from many of the employee-designed initiatives that have flowed from the programme."
David said Pinnacle MHN is thrilled to have made such a strong impression in the HR industry. "It's an honour to be recognised by the Awards alongside ACC, Mercury, and Westpac as undertaking one of the best workplace engagement projects in the country," he said.
"Most importantly, we couldn't be more proud of the outcomes the workforce achieved. Thanks to the Coast to Coast we can confidently say we're a vastly more engaged organisation with systems and processes that really work."