Blog | Improving employee engagement in the NHS – reflections on the NHS Staff Survey

Published March 20, 2017 by Levon McGregor

Healthcare
Improving employee engagement in the NHS – reflections on the NHS Staff Survey

The annual NHS Staff Survey provides a snapshot of the levels of engagement across the health service, and is therefore a key indicator of the state of employee satisfaction at a time of unprecedented change in the sector. Nearly 1 million staff are asked for their views on satisfaction with their role, workplace and whether they would recommend their NHS organisation to family and friends as a place to work or to seek treatment. 

With the 2016 results just published, NHS communications and engagement leads gathered to reflect on what it all means to the health service at the recent NHS Employers event Staff Survey results 2016 - the next steps, which took place on March 14th 2017.

Overall, there was a sense of reassurance that staff engagement scores across all NHS Trusts and organisation types was at a similar level to that seen in 2014/15. In fact job satisfaction had risen to an average of 3.75 (out of 5), continuing a positive upward trend, with 74% of staff saying they felt enthusiastic about their job. 70% of employees agreed or strongly agreed that they would be happy to recommend their organisation if a friend or relative needed treatment.

Given the well-publicised pressures on staff during the course of 2016 and beyond, this demonstrates the commitment of staff and the efforts of employers to continually improve the NHS workplace.

The link between management and engagement

Speaking at the event, Professor Jeremy Dawson, from Sheffield University Management School, underlined a key finding of the data over the past 6 years – a clear link between supportive line management and good engagement levels and outcomes. Empowering staff with well-structured teams, good job design, and effective appraisals consistently results in good engagement scores and, in turn, good outcomes for patients.

However, bullying, abuse and harassment from employees and patients continues to blight the working lives of some staff, and was one area where improvement was negligible. Staff perceptions of equal opportunities also showed little sign of improvement. To read more detailed insight into the trends at a national level, a briefing note has been published, covering the key overall findings.

The pressures on NHS resources at a time of growing demand promise to continue into 2017, affecting all parts of the health service. As the NHS Staff Survey results make clear, engaged and aligned staff are crucial to meeting this challenge in terms of attracting, retaining and developing employees, unlocking innovation and enabling the highest standards of patient care. This means every part of the health service has to focus on listening to staff, and acting on their insight, on an ongoing basis if they are to thrive moving forward. 


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