I have always enjoyed Christmas at work, but I have never had such rewarding and inspiring Christmases at work since working in a hospital.
I have been a workforce director in the NHS for five years. Our executive team commonly spend the three days up to Christmas and Christmas morning itself in the hospitals touring our sites, thanking everyone we meet for their contribution over the last year.
Its a lovely time. Staff are cheery, patients, their family and friends typically appreciative, and it’s lovely to spend time across our six London hospitals with the sole purpose of being thankful.
It’s not uncommon to receive praise for going in on Christmas morning but its a very small gesture of thanks. We see staff who devote whole shifts to care, giving up time they would otherwise have with their own families, children and those they care for.
That brings home how remarkable the NHS is. Meeting the same staff who have worked every Christmas day for years also shows something to me about how staff care for each other: many Jewish and international staff for whom Christmas is not their main celebration of faith always offer to go on the rota for the full holiday.
Staff care is essential for all at this time, and HR plays a fundamental role in enabling that. Yet HR staff’s own needs too often get forgotten. During the last year, I’ve seen some great HR colleagues calm very difficult interpersonal crisis, support staff facing tragedies in and outside work and manage very demanding expectations without the ability to speak openly about issues that need remain confidential. They would be the colleague’s anyone else needing care or support would and could look to.
I always struggle to know what presents to get my team for Christmas – they all deserve a week away in a spa! Saying thank you isn’t enough for such a valued and sometimes under-recognised group. They are super and its a privilege to lead them.
Ben Morrin is the Workforce Director for University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust