Using the staff survey results effectively


08 / 04 / 2009

  • The organisation
  • SHA area
  • Introduction
  • Achieving a high response rate
  • Communicating the results
  • Action planning
  • Monitoring the plan and making it formal
  • Example of the plan and the 2008 staff survey results
  • Next steps
  • Further information and contact details
  • The organisation

    Hinchingbrooke Hospital is a small acute hospital based in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire. It provides services for a local population of 161,000, from Huntingdon and the surrounding area and employs around 1300 staff. 

    SHA region

    East of England


    Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust is operating in a time of uncertainty and high public interest concerning its future. The Strategic Health Authority is running the ‘Hinchingbrooke Next Steps’ project which will determine the future governance of the trust. Over the last few years the trust has suffered from high staff turnover, a high vacancy rate and low staff morale all of which were believed to be caused by uncertainty of the future of the organisation. 
    The trust uses the staff survey as a tool to help identify and address their unique issues. It takes a keen interest in the staff survey and reports the results to its board each year.

    Achieving a high response rate

    The trust takes a proactive approach to achieve a high response rate and has been very successful over the last four years:

    • 2005 – 66 per cent
    • 2006 – 71 per cent
    • 2007 - 67 per cent
    • 2008 – 68 per cent

    The trust believes that the way to getting a good response rate is through:

    • identifying a lead person to take full responsibility for disseminating the questionnaires and getting a high response rate.  In Hinchinbrooke’s case it is a senior HR manager, who takes pride in trying to improve the response rate each year. The associate director of HR also takes every opportunity to promote the survey to line managers to keep the message alive
    • constantly reminding people to fill the survey in, using a drip, drip approach
    • using a variety of channels to promote the survey; such as team briefings, articles in the staff newsletter, intranet, emails and posters.
    • HR representatives attending staff and management meetings to explain the survey, ask managers to encourage and give staff time out to complete it and allay fears about confidentiality
    • answering ‘frequently asked questions’ to address concerns about the survey in team brief and the staff newsletter – in particular the concern that as the HR team is chasing people, they know who has received a questionnaire and the assumption that HR is therefore reading them – this is an important myth to dispel
    • creating a competitive environment by highlighting to managers which departments and teams within them have not yet completed a form.  When managers see what other sections have done, they too want to increase their completion rate
    •  introducing an incentive – the trust did this for the 2008 survey and offered a prize draw to win gift vouchers. 

    Communicating the staff survey results

    The trust developed a campaign called “You Talked…We Listened”.  The campaign aims to highlight some of the main issues raised by staff in the survey, the trust used their internal newsletter and other forums, such as, staff engagement workshops to communicate these messages to staff.

    The campaign was put together with HR managers, the communications lead and staff side members. Information was collated from staff and from this key action points were developed for the trust to focus on.

    The campaign ran in the staff newsletter and on the intranet. Initially, staff were asked to join various groups to discuss the issue highlighted, then the trust worked on the issues where there was the interest, time and resources.

    Action planning

    The HR team at the trust carry out a more detailed analysis of the staff survey results, for example, by division, staff group and demographic factors such as ethnicity, gender and disability.

    By comparing results by each area, it enables each division to see where they fit compared to other areas of the trust, as well as compared to other trusts.

    Using this data the trust identifies hotspots for action planning.  A simple process is used for putting together the action plan, which includes, setting objectives, tasks, a lead person, deadlines and a progress report.

    The action plan is put together by the associate director of HR who works with other key staff, such as the associate director for quality and risk, the head of learning and development, HR managers and staff side members.

    Monitoring the action plan and making it formal

    In 2008 the trust developed a formal action plan to give it more weight and to give more ownership to the directorates. This was monitored by the local audit committee, made up of executive and non-executive directors. 

    Board members, in particular non-executive directors, take a keen interest in the staff survey results and will question why not enough progress is taking place in a certain area.

    The plan is discussed at the trust staff council; HR managers meetings; health and safety committee and updates including any risks or concerns are reported to the executive team meetings.

    The action plan is taken to the trust board each year with updates against the actions given as well as reporting the results of the current survey. Risks arsing from the plan are also logged on the trust’s risk register which is monitored via the board.

    Example of the action plan and the 2008 staff survey results

    The interim results of the 2008 survey show that all the areas identified in the trust’s action plan had shown improvements. Some examples from the trusts plan:

    To improve appraisal and personal development plans. Actions taken include an audit on a quarterly basis, discussion of results and target setting at departmental meetings and targeted support for areas with very low take up, for example, through running group appraisals for staff groups who traditionally do not respond well to the appraisal system such as catering and portering.    

    • appraisal up from 56 per cent to 59 per cent 
    • PDP up from 49 per cent to 50 per cent 
    • trust audit shows around 70 per cent of staff had a development review with KSF (including PDP)

    To reduce staff intention to leave jobs / actual turnover. Actions taken include an intensive recruitment activity to reduce vacancies and pressure on wards, centralisation of recruitment admin into HR, messages and workshops for staff to reassure on future of hospital

    • staff intention to leave ‘as soon as they find another job’ down from 21 per cent to 12 per cent
    • actual staff turnover down from 17 per cent to 14 per cent 

    To reduce harassment, bullying and abuse from other staff and improve perception of effective action from employer towards violence and harassment. Actions taken include discussion of detailed results at team meetings, “Ban Bullying” campaign posters, newsletter and team brief, new email address set up to report bullying confidentially to HR

    • bullying, harassment and abuse reduced across all areas – patients, relatives, public, managers & colleagues
    • harassment, bullying and abuse by colleagues reduced from 25 per cent to 18 per cent

    To reduce workplace stress. Actions taken include the questions relating to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) stress standards from survey were analysed further and discussed at the health and safety committee and trust staff council

    • workplace stress reduced from 29 per cent to 25 per cent

    The trust is pleased with the progress made to respond and take action on the staff survey results, but is not complacent and will continue to work to address these areas. In particular, the trust needs to do more work on improving perceptions of the trust taking effective action, for example, for accidents and harassment and bullying these scores have not changed significantly since last year.
    The trust will review the action plan now the 2008 results have been formally announced by the Healthcare Commission and will run some staff engagement workshops to gather feedback on the values of the trust and the staff pledges in the NHS Constitution. The information gathered at these workshops will also feed into the “You Talked” campaign.

    Further information and contact details

    Catherine Hall, Associate Director of HR, Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust  (01480) 423176



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