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Circle Health Group transforms its approach to learning and performance management with Totara

With more than 50 hospital sites and two million patient visits every year, Circle Health Group is the UK’s largest independent hospital group, and most innovative and technologically advanced hospital provider.

As the UK’s most patient-focused healthcare organization, Circle Health Group puts patients at the core of everything they do and empower their people to excel. They believe in their people, and that the best results will come from the best people caring together. They combine technology and innovation to improve the quality of their patient care and help their people to work more effectively.

The Challenge

Although Circle Health Group has had Totara Learn embedded in the organization for a number of years, they wanted to elevate learners’ experience from compliance-style training to a unified talent experience. Their objective was to place career growth alongside learning, and find innovative ways to identify and maximize the amazing potential of their people, across every discipline and area of the business.

Circle Health Group's learning and talent team had the capability and expertise to support their aspiration to be a learning organization, but it needed its organizational tools to link to each other digitally, to enable a holistic perspective and a technology infrastructure that worked for its people. Working across multiple hospital and office sites meant that it was critical to provide solutions that were sufficiently standardized, while being flexible enough to meet the varying demands of each of its sites. Before Circle Health Group started the project, each site had its own method and paperwork to support the reporting of talent planning, competencies and performance reviews - these are now harmonized with its TXP solution. 

Working with Think Learning and the Totara Talent Experience Platform (TXP) has enabled Circle Health Group to create a technology-enhanced solution which supports its learners, is operationally robust and which delivers its desired outcomes.

The Solution

Circle Health Group talent grid

It was essential to have a single platform that provided a complete talent solution. Circle Health Group's market research showed that several tools were available, but none that linked elements together easily. As a long-standing, satisfied Totara customer, they already loved Totara's holistic approach to learning, but they could also see how a person’s journey of learning could be effectively supported by the additional TXP tools within the system. The Totara platform fulfilled that key criteria for them, providing a single, powerful solution to enable people to source and access tools for their development.

Totara TXP provided the seven key elements that underpin Circle Health Group's employee talent journey:

  1. Induction – they were able to enhance their already-established induction by providing custom onboarding routes through creatively themed program pathways
  2. Mandatory training – the improved functionality and consultative support from Circle Health Group's Totara Partner, Think Learning, allowed them to re-evaluate and streamline how they manage, track and report on their compliance-related training, which is key for regulators
  3. Performance management – it was critical that Circle Health Group had a unified and improved process for performance management, not just for regulatory reporting, but also to support and embed a culture of continuous development. They achieved this by providing regular performance check-in conversations between managers and staff, which also had to be able to hold and reflect the voice of the employee and their experience of the process
  4. Identification of potential talent – highlighting talent was critical to feed into programs to develop people for leadership and strategic roles in line with workforce planning
  5. Competencies – the business had hundreds of pages of documentation, in differing formats, for work-based competencies. The use of the Totara Perform competency tool was critical for bringing this work together, in a single unified place which was reportable and fed into wider learning provision
  6. 360 feedback – to be able to support people with a tool that enabled feedback in line with Circle Health Group’s philosophy, principles and behaviors
  7. All underpinned by elegant and intuitive user experience! Circle Health Group works across multiple hospital/office sites with a wide array of services and staff, and it was important that every individual could access courses and tools that were specific and meaningful to them. They supported this with personalized direct mail to every member of staff offering access to custom landing pages, providing support and resources according to their current or aspirational role.
Circle Health Group leadership

The Results

“The learning management system and the support of Think Learning has enabled us to retain and build upon our reputation as a strategic partner back to the business. This enables us to maintain high levels of compliance, but at the same time innovate and remain agile, while maximizing the use of TXP.

Think Learning have gone beyond being a supplier, and we have built a true partnership relationship. I am proud of what we have achieved together.”
- Jenny McKnight, Head of Talent and People Development, Circle Health Group

Using the TXP functionality has transformed Circle Health Group's key talent metrics, and employee feedback on the learning provision has improved significantly.

Performance appraisal compliance has increased from 5% completion, to an incredible 95%. In response to user feedback, Circle Health Group created a more flexible, dynamic and meaningful approach, reflecting the different ways real-world performance conversations are managed. The embedding of goals and check-ins has been enthusiastically welcomed by managers. From a regulatory perspective, they have evidenced clearer and improved reporting to regulators. Induction completion rates have increased from 40% to an overall completion of 90%. This is a direct result of the bespoke nature of the induction course and its new layout; these factors have driven up the engagement rate, and more than doubled the previous completion rate.

Circle Health Group induction and onboarding

Compliance-related training results have been much more consistent than previously (along with higher completion rates). This is an area where Think Learning specialize, and their consultative support around the use of their enhanced Totara Talent Experience Platform has enabled learners to complete courses with ease, as well as allowing Circle Health Group to drive a 10% increase in mandatory training completion. This is great for the staff, positively impacts patient care and is critical for regulators.

Building on the performance appraisal success, Think Learning produced a custom, interactive report that enables managers and senior leaders to identify high performers. As a result, participation on leadership and management courses has tripled – with a direct correlation on enrolment evidenced from outcomes of performance management conversations. The business is now in the process of training an additional 300 people across its portfolio of leadership and management courses. 

Competencies are currently being used across the business, and most notably within the multi-million pound digital transformation program. Digital competencies are being used to identify and allocate learning in line with staff members’ digital literacy. Where this process formerly required days of manual administration, the new digital automation of competency assignment has eliminated the need for manual analysis, resulting in a saving of £104k, with a significant and immediate impact on results and data. 

Circle Health Group competency profile

360 feedback has enabled Circle Health Group's people (at all organizational levels) to reflect on their behaviors and perception across their area of influence. This technology-supported feedback culture has enabled them to better align clinical practice with their organizational values – further embedding how people reflect upon their own skills and behaviors to contribute to positive patient outcomes. 70 people accessed and completed the 360 feedback process in the first week, with a steadily increasing uptake of 20 new employees each week. Circle Health Group been delighted to see the use of the feedback tool prompting an 87% increased take-up rate for coaching support, primarily amongst the senior manager audience at whom this was targeted.

With the support of Think Learning, Circle Health Group simplified and improved their theming and user experience and personalization across landing pages and site navigation, while also incorporating a high level of personalization. Circle Health Group is now able to provide customized online pathways for all career routes, outlining relevant formal (and work-based) learning opportunities for each stage of someone’s career. To promote the new-look platform, Circle Health Group personally invited employees to access it via a maildrop, sent directly to home addresses. Metrics evidenced a 20% engagement rate; double what is expected for this type of promotion.

Additional research and development workshops showed that the improved user interface (UI) was seen as a vast improvement; users reported satisfaction with the ease of access to high-quality resources and links. Also as a result of direct personalization, Circle Health Group has also seen a 20% increase in its key clinical apprenticeship programs, which enables support workers to become registered professionals (nurses and allied health professionals). This clinical workforce development strategy (based on identifying and growing internal talent), supported by the TXP, will significantly contribute to the achievement of Circle Health Group's long-term healthcare workforce plan, in the context of an incredibly competitive labor market.

Think Learning’s expertise and partnership approach, along with the Totara TXP features, have enabled Circle Health Group to build a holistic talent infrastructure, with a technology toolkit that really works for its people.

Finally, Circle Health Group has had powerful feedback from people who have joined the organization from other private and NHS providers, and a clear theme emerges around how positively the provision of talent-focused education and digital learning tools are received by employees… in fact, it has become one of Circle Health Group’s USPs! 

“The learning culture and opportunities within Circle Health Group make it unique among its competitors. No other independent healthcare provider has such a holistic view of learning and development. Every member of the team has access to learning opportunities, whether that is clinical, administrative or in the management field. 

As a hospital director, I have access to various digital tools and learning programs to help me direct and support my hospital. The talent system provides quick and simple access and helps me understand the features and tools that can benefit me and my teams. I couldn’t imagine working without it!”
- Silvie Adams, Flagship Hospital Director

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