LPHY is a local charity who aim to support the best Hospice care for local people. This is done primarily through the gift of at least £1m per year to an NHS Hospice, enabling the provision of additional services such as Hospice at Home and Day Hospice, as well as a Listening Service for the recently bereaved.
The Charity has big plans to double the number of shops (currently 9 plus online) and increase fundraising by £2m so that additional community services can be funded. This will be achieved through the development of a better skilled team and new ways of working. As part of this, the organisation has reviewed its values – Professionalism, Agility, Community, Team.
The Charity is staffed by approx. 50 people with help from over 400 volunteers who work in the hospice, the retail shops, head office and fundraising. It is, however, an organisation of two halves.
Accounts for nearly 2/3rd of the staff but generates only 1/3rd of the profit. The high staff ratio (usually 1 full time manager and 1 part time assistant manager per shop) results in very low margins, even for Charity retail.
During the pandemic the Charity took the opportunity to restructure resulting in 8 voluntary redundancies from those who felt the planned changes to T&Cs and working methods were unnecessary. The estate is now split into 2 – the large furniture showroom and online team are managed as one unit, and the rest of the shops are overseen by the area manager. Shop managers line manage their assistant managers and, in the larger shops, weekend sales staff. Due to working patterns, shop managers usually work only 1 day a week with their direct reports. This is the first line management role for many.
In the past, retail has felt like a poor relation to fundraising, there is a sensitivity about changes / decisions originating from Head Office. Although the current Senior Management Team have pushed the concept of “one team”, this sense of division was highlighted during the pandemic when all the retail staff (apart from the online team) were furloughed as the shops were closed.
Most of the shops do not have computers but emails can be read on the touch screen till system. Unfortunately, many staff have forgotten their work email address and are using personal email and phones for work purposes. The Charity is about to invest heavily in a new IT structure at Head Office having provided a fully costed business case to the Board, detailing significant benefits in terms of cost savings and increased productivity.
There are several vacancies that are proving difficult to fill with a lack of suitable candidates. There is a suspicion that the current rate of pay (barely above National Minimum wage) is not attractive, and a couple of recent hires have been less than successful.
Retail staff also account for nearly all sick leave – in fact 5 people account for 105 days of the 270 days sickness in the first half of this financial year. Sickness levels are causing additional stress on an already stretched team and it has been necessary on occasion to close some shops due to lack of cover – this is not sustainable.
Each shop has its own targets for takings, lottery ticket sales and sign-ups for Gift Aid. Sales are ok but some shops are down on budgets and lagging behind previous years. Online has a new manager who inherited few written instructions, seems unfocused and lost in the admin. So far online has failed to generate the sales expected.
Non – Retail (Fundraising/ Finance /Admin)
The pandemic brought the weaknesses in the fundraising model to the fore – a reliance on community events left the Charity vulnerable as lockdown cut off major sources of income. The decision was taken to invest in higher skilled (and more expensive) staff with experience in specialised areas of fundraising – individual giving / grants & trusts / in memory giving.
This restructure resulted in a number of voluntary redundancies and new hires. The lower paid and lower skilled community and events team were replaced by 2 managers supported by volunteers. The strategy has proved financially successful and the income during the pandemic far exceeded initial forecasts. However, 2 out of the 3 new hires have already left (one was a poor cultural fit and the other was offered more money to work elsewhere).
The lifting of restrictions and the increasing confidence of the public means that community events are back on the calendar. Previous events included an annual Beer Festival and a Gala Dinner, both of which were resource heavy and profit light; characterised by a lack of organisation and last- minute panic. SMT are keen to ensure that any future events give a better ROI and are less stressful for all concerned!
The office has remained open throughout the pandemic, as fundraising and admin staff worked from home. A hybrid model of working has been adopted but whilst popular with staff, there are indications it may not be as productive as it could be. All the staff (apart from SMT) are part time, and there isn’t a single day when the whole office is actually working. On the plus side there is almost no sickness absence.
There are also some tensions within Head Office – especially between fundraising and marketing. The latter object to last minute demands whilst trying to balance the needs of the whole organisation. The former complain that marketing “isn’t agile” enough. Meetings frequently over-run and generally fail to resolve things. Even minor issues are escalated very quickly to CEO level.
Whilst most staff had their salaries adjusted (upwards) as part of the restructure, a small number of long serving staff are paid above the market rates for the role as a result of uncapped annual payrises over several years. The Senior Management Team, however, have not had a pay rise in 2 ½ years and recent adverts for similar Charity roles show salaries up to 25% above what they are currently paid. Care needs to be taken; supporters do not like the idea of their donations going on anywhere other than hospice services and some volunteers feel that staff shouldn’t be paid at all.
On another note, the last Head of HR left the Charity almost a year before the COVID pandemic, leaving behind a bank of detailed and well written, but largely unread, policies and processes. The performance management process was used for a couple of years but then fell into abeyance. Complaints about it largely revolve around the length – a full 8 pages – and the need to get formal feedback from a variety of people in the organisation prior to the annual appraisal. On closer investigation it is obvious that there were issues with the quality of feedback with a small number of individuals taking offence at things that were written about them. In the end some line managers spent a good deal of time writing feedback that was so couched and caveated as to be impenetrable.
There is an acceptance at Senior Management Team level that some form of PM is needed because “it’s best practice” but with no consensus about what form it should take or even what it should be achieving. There is also a view among some staff that a formal PM system isn’t needed at all as the local targets are sufficient…
On the back of your presentation to them, you have now been hired by LPHY to give further detail into their VUCA environment and the change management model proposed in your presentation. They wish for you to advise of a strategic change for them and provided clear, guided steps for this initiative aided by an appropriate Change Management model. They also wish for you to addresses possible resistance to change at organisational and individual levels to the proposed change.