NHS Staff Survey shows sustained staff engagement

Steven Weeks

24 / 2 / 2016 1pm

In this blog, Steven Weeks policy manager and staff engagement lead at NHS Employers, discusses the NHS Staff Survey results.

The NHS Staff Survey released on the 23 February shows progress in improving staff engagement in the NHS. This is despite the intense pressures on the service and widespread negative media coverage. 

The increase in engagement levels reflects the high levels of commitment of NHS staff and the sustained efforts by many NHS Trusts to improve involvement over the past year. We have highlighted a range of such initiatives on our case studies section and I am pleased to see they are having a positive impact. It shows that action at local level can make a difference even in the current context. 
To help trusts build on these results and develop their local approaches we have organised a number of free workshops on 11 March in London and 6 April in Leeds (I recommend you book now in order to secure your place). 

Engagement is now at it's highest since 2011

The staff engagement measure used by the NHS is a composite measure made up of indicators of motivation, levels of involvement and willingness to recommend the service. The overall level is measured on five point scale and rose from 3.71 in 2014 to 3.78 in 2015. The level of engagement is now at its highest since first introduced in 2011 when it was 3.61. There was a particular improvement in the motivation score which rose from 3.83 to 3.92 which is also the highest recorded. The overall indicator of involvement also rose from 3.85 in 2014 to 3.89 in 2015 (compared to 3.82 in 2011). These are impressive results especially in the light of wider pressure on the service. 

Improvement in motivation levels

The improvement in motivation levels is the most surprising given the pressures on the service. The motivation score is derived from questions on how far staff look forward to going to work and their overall work experience. It does reflect the high level of commitment staff have to their work and their identification with the NHS. This improvement is perhaps the most surprising in the survey given the well known pressures on the service. It is vital that organisations can sustain this and one of the ways to do this is to support line managers to engage with their teams. NHS Employers has produced a range of materials to support line managers which you may find useful.

Improvements on involvement 

The improvements on involvement reflect the work in many trusts to give staff more opportunities to be share ideas and act on staff input. Examples of these approaches can be found on our website. The overall indicator looks at both individual level of responsibility where staff are generally satisfied and organisational involvement where there picture is more mixed. 69.8 per cent of staff feel able to contribute toward improvements at work (up from 68.1 per cent in 2014). Staff feel more able to share ideas with 75 per cent reporting that they are able to make suggestions for improvement. By contrast only 56 per cent feel they are able to make improvements happen. There is clearly though still scope for improvement as only 32 per cent of staff feel senior management involve them in important decisions or act on feedback. 

There are many different approaches to fostering a sense of involvement. The key is a genuine commitment to seeking out staff views and acting on their ideas. One area we will be looking at in more detail in a soon to be released publication is how to make best use of Information Technology Tools to support staff involvement. Trusts such as Leeds Teaching Hospital, Pennine Acute and Merseycare have been pioneering innovative ideas

Willingness of staff to recommend the NHS as a place to work

There has been also been a recovery in the willingness of staff to recommend the NHS as a place to work. This rose to 59 per cent up from 56 per cent in 2014. This question is both and indicator of overall staff engagement and reflects wider staff experience in areas such as health and well being. NHS Employers is working with over 100 trusts on health and well being and we hope this will reinforce and sustain progress on engagement. 

Sharing best practice

NHS Employers will be strengthening support for employers in improving staff engagement . In particular looking at how to spread best practice from improving organisations to those that face the greatest challenges and how to sustain staff engagement in the context of intensifying pressures on the service.  If you have any ideas on issues we should be addressing or any examples you would like to share please get in touch

Find out more information on the 2015 NHS Staff Survey

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