Six happy, smiling work colleagues participating in a hands in team-building exercise in an office room.

How to Foster Cohesiveness in Your Practice

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”

– Henry Ford
Welcome to Tavyside Surgery

In a recent discussion with a GP partner at Tavyside Surgery, I had the privilege of gaining insights into how they engaged their staff in a successful wellbeing project. 

The covid pandemic, undeniably, took a toll on individuals and organisations. Tavyside Surgery, recognising the importance of employee wellbeing, addressed the challenges posed by the ‘new normal’ and implemented a strategy to restore cohesiveness among staff returning to their regular work routines. 

In this article, I will share highlights of their project and I hope this will be a practical resource and inspiration for your team. 

How it started

Like most practices, Tavyside Surgery faced with the absence of traditional social gatherings like Christmas or summer parties during the pandemic. Consequently, they aimed to fill the void with a team-centric project. The goal was clear—to enhance team cohesiveness by engaging everyone in a joint activity. During the pandemic they staggered tea and coffee breaks, posing a unique challenge in finding common ground for collaboration.. 

The Tavyside Wellbeing Month was an idea that evolved from a fitness-focused initiative during covid into a comprehensive rainbow themed project. Why the Rainbow? It was also the month of June 😊. This programme involved various activities aligned with distinct colour themes, encouraging participation and contribution from all team members. 

Tavyside Wellbeing Month

tavyside wellbeing poster

The colourful point system provided a structured approach to the project, with teams earning colour badges based on the completion of activities aligned with the colour themes. The winning team would have accumulated the most colours over four weeks. They also had the privilege of choosing a grand prize for the entire practice. Prizes ranged from outdoor adventures to wellness treatments, creating a tangible celebration of both achievement and collective joy. 

Coincidentally, the practise was further motivated by the QOF points to be gained from achieving a  wellbeing quality improvement milestone in this QOF year. The Quality Outcome Framework on wellbeing would showcase their supportive and healthy work culture as well as their culture of compassion and inclusivity. 

Team Dynamics and Activities

Recognising the diversity within the primary care workforce, they randomised staff groups into four teams, enabling deeper connections and collaboration. The inclusion of doctors, administrators, care navigators, and other primary care professionals improved staff trust and morale. They also utilised communication tools like WhatsApp groups and designated team leaders to coordinate each team’s efforts.  

Shared lunches, initially a team-specific initiative, organically transformed into a practice-wide event, further promoting a sense of collective engagement. 

female colleagues making soup

Another member thought of mindfulness tips and was encouraged to run with it. This led to having very heartwarming quotations stuck to the doors and corridor walls. Little notes of self-care, wellbeing reminders, self-awareness that can bring a smile to your face. “The stickers get moved around to keep you seeing new things as you walked around the practice. “ 

team 4 activity

Sharing your “Why” with your team

As the project continued, every facet of their team’s attention was fully absorbed, becoming a topic that spilled over into their personal lives. Take, for instance, the challenge related to experimenting with alternative milk as a substitute for dairy due to environmental sustainability causes. While some may have expressed initial scepticism, others embraced the opportunity of trying different milk substitutes offered at the practice and took the experiment home. 

It is fascinating to observe the diverse motivations that drive individuals to embrace change. 

The provision of a compelling “why” by the practice appeared to be a potent catalyst, prompting staff to give innovative ideas a shot.

This clearly underscores the core principle that fostering self-expression lies at the heart of any successful wellbeing initiative. The activities staff can engage in must be co-designed, ensuring they resonate with individuals and are not imposed upon them. This way, everyone is empowered to choose and actively participate in activities that contribute to their overall well-being. 

Personalised recognition

We talked about how engagement was maintained during the project. “As you can imagine, some might be more energised than others.” She continued.  

“A team got a task completion sticker only if the majority of that team’s members were involved in achieving that particular colour theme.” 

By giving each team member who participated a personalised identity sticker, they made sure everyone could see them. Everybody got a sticker with their name and photo on it, placed next to an action that they helped in, to reach a certain colour goal.  

Each employee felt acknowledged and experienced a sense of belonging. 

Benefits and Barriers

The project encountered minimal barriers, primarily revolving around the challenges posed by specific tasks. Success depended on the extent of outside-the-box thinking and creativity demonstrated by each team in pursuit of a specific colour target. For example, the active workday task, where individuals opted for a variety of approaches. Some engaged in desk exercises, while others went for a post-work run. Overall, both activities led to an identical completion tally, blurring distinctions in the level of exertion between them. It highlighted the diverse strategies people employ to achieve the same goal and the value of flexibility and creativity in problem-solving within a team. 

Capturing the data

A crucial aspect of running a project like this was to answer the question of how to collect data. Data collection is useful for record keeping, analysis and review. 

She shared how they contemplated using certain tracking apps, but these had their limitation in terms of what they might be designed to track. As their project expanded it was more practical to opt for the “good old tally board “, that was visible to everyone. 

tally board- tavyside wellbeing project

Practice Leadership and Wellbeing strategy

It is obvious the partners all love working together and prioritise staff input in their wellbeing strategy. Boosting staff morale and wellbeing is written into their values at Tavyside and any decision was made with this in mind. 

We talked more about organisational structure, staff retention strategies and goals but we will explore this further in another article. Stay tuned. 

Closing remarks

As our conversation was rounding up, I could not shake off the image of the practice staff enjoying a midday massage. It was a powerful reminder of how essential it is to acknowledge and address the toll that the demanding healthcare profession takes on its practitioners. 

For a busy practice, these brief moments of self-care should not be a luxury but a necessity. They ensure that those who care for others can continue to do so with compassion and vitality.  

In her closing remarks she encouraged each staff to spend some time in different staff groups at work. This would foster easy conversation and awareness of what each person does in the practice. It also offers you the opportunity to bond closer than the routine of daily work. 

Read more about how to form meaningful relationships at work here

A special thanks to all the staff at Tavyside for taking part in this exercise.  

Would you like to showcase your practice wellbeing projects to our readers? You can contact me here. I look forward to hearing from you.  

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