Policies, promises and trust: improving working lives in the National Health Service

Denise Skinner (Oxford Brookes University Business School, Wheatley Campus, Oxford, UK)
Mark N.K. Saunders (Oxford Brookes University Business School, Wheatley Campus, Oxford, UK)
Hilary Duckett (Oxford Brookes University Business School, Wheatley Campus, Oxford, UK)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Publication date: 1 December 2004

Abstract

In recent years the UK National Health Service (NHS) has been characterised by radical and continuous change at every level. Within the literature, and the NHS itself, it is argued that successfully changing such an organisation requires the sustained commitment, trust and goodwill of staff. As part of developing and maintaining mutual trust and commitment it is widely argued that employers must meet the employee expectations which form part of the psychological contract, an important element of which, Armstrong argues, is being able to trust in management to keep their promises. Within this paper we argue that policies can be seen as a visible manifestation of management promises and present the improving working lives (IWL) policy within the NHS as an example of one such “promise” that has been made to staff in relation to areas which are important to them at a personal level. Using an anonymous questionnaire that explored areas central to IWL, data were collected from staff in five Primary Care Trusts within one Strategic Heath Authority in relation to their experiences and awareness of what was being done to address these issues. The research found that although the IWL Standard makes very public promises about work‐life balance, harassment, equality and the valuing of staff, at best these have only been partially delivered.

Keywords

Citation

Skinner, D., Saunders, M. and Duckett, H. (2004), "Policies, promises and trust: improving working lives in the National Health Service", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 17 No. 7, pp. 558-570. https://doi.org/10.1108/09513550410562248

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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