NHS Quest CEO Breakfast Session: Being a good employer


On Tuesday 10 May 2022, our NHS Quest Chief Executives were joined by Olly Purnell, the co-founder and Managing Partner of Q5, a management consultancy focused on organisational health.

One of NHS Quest’s key focuses on is ‘being a good employer’, we encourage the network to connect with like-minded peers, learn from new and innovative speakers and stretch their thinking on equalities, people, social value and innovation.

Launched in 2009 with 5 co-founders, Q5 has now grown to 250 employees & 60 associates, more than doubling their financial turnover in the last two years.

What can we learn from Q5’s philosophy and practice in supporting our staff?

1. Always align around a vision

“Q5 seek to be the leading consulting firm in organisational health.”

They have built their vision across three elements:

  1. Influence: having trust and authority on what they work on
  2. Reach: across sectors and geographies
  3. Contribution: driving profitable growth and personal contribution to the business and society they live in

2. Foster and nurture your Culture: from pre-hire to leaver

“A relentless focus on ‘we’ over me’.”

Recruiting to six core values, Q5 are passionate about their team throughout the entire recruitment process. Olly explained how they built personas to help shape recruitment around high performing members of their team; capturing those traits that made their employees successful.

Their Alumni group (Q5 Hive) ensures that they always continue to grow their networks, even when someone leaves the organisation.

3. Utilise Mentorship

Mentorship plays a pivotal role in the business: every single person in the firm has a mentor to help their development. Employees are then grouped into ‘mentor families’ to grow the pool of skills employees can learn from.

Olly explained how they use a sliding scale to determine motivational needs, used by every mentor, to gauge where people are – then this is mapped against what they’re getting from Q5.

4. Always giving back: pop-up consulting

Pop up consulting is Q5’s pro bono consulting initiative for charities, non-profits and SMEs. Since March 2020, they have helped 108 organisations, delivering 3000+ hours of consulting support on a pro bono basis.

Born at the outset of the pandemic, they provided rapid consulting interventions to support businesses, asking for very specific, detailed feedback in return.

Pop up consulting also gave energy to employees. Normally working on long term projects, this gave them the opportunity to work on something new and exciting for a couple of days.

This enabled Q5 to grow their reach by widening their network even further.

5. Pool resources to develop a greater impact

The Transformation Alliance allows Q5 to run a shared training and induction programme with four other firms, creating economies of scale.

6. Prioritise wellbeing

Over the years Q5 have offered various wellbeing initiatives, including a pre-paid card with £500 for ‘proactive’ wellbeing for every employee.

Now in 2022 there are a programme of activities you can sign up for, paid for by the organisation, from sports, languages to health and beauty.

What is next for NHS Quest?

The discussion that took place around supporting staff was interesting, sparking a variety of valuable conversations between the Chief Executives.

We are looking forward to continuing the conversation at the Annual Study Tour in September where we will develop further ideas around how to support our people.