Employees are the stars of this internal event

The Communications Team from Bradford District Care NHS Foundation were highly commended at CIPR inside #insidestory 2015 Awards for Best Internal Event. Here the Trust’s Communications Officer Aimee Haggas gives us the run down on what makes a great internal event.

Over to Aimee:

Celebrate the achievements of staff, give everyone the ‘feel good factor’, raise awareness of the work we do, oh… and source the all the funding to cover the event.

Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust, You're a star awards.

Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust, You’re a star awards.

There’s more to putting on an event, in our case our annual staff award ceremony – You’re a Star Awards, than the glitz and glamour of the night.  Even more so in the public sector where EVERYTHING is scrutinised.

Planning, commitment and relationships

So how do we put on an event that attracts 200 members of staff on the night, 65 nominations for five categories, gets feedback such as ‘inspirational,’ ‘fantastic,’ and  ‘proud’  and over £10,000 in sponsorship donations from external companies? We put it down to a good plan, a committed team, knowing our colleagues and building great relationships with partners.

A summer’s evening in June at a central Bradford Hotel is where we crown the winners of our five awards. But we actually start making this night happen eight months earlier.

After evaluating the previous year’s event we submit a proposal to our Exec Managers for the next event. With backing from our top team we then implement the plan.

We’re a team of four covering corporate, external, crisis, media relations, digital and internal comms! So having a good plan in place with clear roles and responsibilities ensures we can deliver on time.

You’re a Star Awards

You’re a Star Awards, or ‘YASA’ as we fondly refer to it, has become established as a highlight in the Trust calendar, and was ‘refreshed’ in 2014. We changed our format to a sit down meal and ceremony, and award categories based around our vision and values in response to staff feedback.

As a team, we work closely throughout the year with the 2,700 staff doctors, nurses, dentists, podiatrists, pharmacists, administrators, volunteers and many more who work for the Trust. They’re based across two hospitals and in the communities of Bradford, Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven.  By having this close relationship with staff we can identify individuals and projects which we cover in our internal magazine or feature in the media that we can prompt throughout the year that ‘this would be a good YASA entry.’

Staff can nominate for four weeks online through our staff intranet, or submit a word document. We don’t ask for war and peace, keep the questions to a minimum and a set a word limit. We know staff include busy clinicians so we want to make it as easy as possible for them.

We’ve not extended the deadline for the last two years. This was at the request of staff who made nominations early, and then felt they may have been pipped at the post by an entry submitted five days after the deadline! But it works. We’ve increased the number of nominations year on year and staff respect the deadline.

A short-list panel made up of staff of all levels of the organisation, service users and carers whittle the entries down to a final 15 using a scoring system. Feedback is offered to those who don’t make the cut.

The final 15 are then filmed at work before this is displayed on a big screen on the night. We make these available online and post them on social media as the evening is progressing.

Our Chairman invites a selection of local health and social influencers to join him on the final judging panel. This always includes service users and carers and our main supporter.

We have a tiered sponsorship package and approach organisations the Trust has worked closely with in the last year to ask for support. These organisations are suggested by our executive management team.

We’ve built a good relationship with Sovereign Healthcare Charitable Trust who have been our main financial

YASA winners 2015

YASA winners 2015

supporter for the last eleven years. They take part in our judging panel, address the audience on the night and present our final award of the evening.  With their support each winner takes £1,000 back to the teams for service improvement which can make a difference for patients and carers along with a trophy and certificate.

Employees are the stars

On the night we treat our staff like stars. The room is themed around stars and staff are waited on. We considered and tried guest hosts, but what we’ve found gets the best response from staff is when we host this ourselves. Our Chairman has been a great compere for the last two years and makes a real connection with staff. Okay, so the script and jokes may be supplied by our team, but his energy and presence on stage is his own!

Our runners up receive a personal letter from the Chair following the awards with the judging panel’s feedback. This is really valued by staff.

We supply local media with case studies and photos in advance of the evening ceremony to ensure the stars of our show have pride of place in the next day’s paper. Our local press give YASA a considerable amount of coverage both pre and post ceremony.

Following the awards, we carry out an evaluation with staff before starting it all again! We encourage feedback from everyone, whether they nominated, attended or didn’t get involved in any way. We always try to improve the process wherever possible and look for ways we can meet the needs of all our colleagues.

The only down side to organising your awards is that you can’t enter yourself!  So we were thrilled to be even be shortlisted for the CIPR Inside #insidestory Awards, let alone highly commended. For once we got to experience what our colleagues feel!



If you want to read more, or get in touch with the team click on these links below:





Huge thanks to Aimee for sharing her team’s case study with us. Their work and award entry was really strong and a great example of internal comms and employee engagement in action.

If this has inspired you to enter this year’s #insidestory awards, read all about the categories, what you need to do in the entry, how to enter and pay here on our awards and categories page.

Don’t miss the deadline of 20 November for entries, or late entries accepted until 27 November.


Image credits: Featured image, Stars, from shutterstock. Team photos provided by Bradford District Care NHS Foundation.

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