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Royal College of Nursing uses centenary to boost engagement

The Royal College of Nursing is using its centenary to boost engagement and staff wellbeing with a series of activities

“We are 100 years old, and it’s a wonderful chance to celebrate – a chance you only get once,” Royal College of Nursing (RCN)’s director of organisation capability and change David Cooper told HR magazine. “We’ve used the centenary to build an even higher level of engagement.”

Activities to celebrate the centenary include ‘Walk the lamp’, where staff, RCN members, friends and family are walking Florence Nightingale’s original lamp between every one of the membership organisation’s offices. The walk will cover 1,500 miles, starting in Exeter and ending in Belfast in October, with each leg of the walk lasting about 10 to 15 miles.

“It’s a massive exercise in staff engagement,” said Cooper, adding that 400 members of RCN’s 900-odd workforce are taking part so far, with an aim to get 500 involved.

“To get 500 people engaged in something like this is a big ask as we are spread all over the UK,” he said. “For example, we only have four people in our north Wales office. Engagement is always harder in multisite organisations. This walk and the centenary have brought everyone together.”

Other activities include Galápagos tortoise adoption for each office (because the tortoises will be around for the next 100 years) and sprinting competitions.

Cooper said a wellbeing theme was deliberate. “We want to make sure people get something out of it,” he said. “We have mainly office-based staff so we try to give them the opportunity to get active. Just because you’re 100 doesn’t mean you just sit there and don’t do anything. We are still a vibrant, fit and energetic organisation – and we are going to be here for another 100 years.”

He added that he would like to see the RCN move up the top 10 of the Sunday Times Best Not-for-profit Organisations to Work For list, as evidence that the centenary activities have been as successful as suspected in raising staff engagement (this year RCN was ranked number 10 in the listing).