An outbreak of ideas

Steven Weeks

We can help the NHS meet some of the workforce challenges by sharing ideas that are being tried and tested across NHS organisations in England.

The recent NHS Staff Survey: The next steps event in Leeds provided an opportunity to share a range of innovative staff engagement ideas.

The event looked at the issues arising from the 2016 results and in particular how organisations have been addressing the challenge of sustaining their levels of staff engagement

During the day we had presentations from trusts and academics, these included:

  • Nicole Ferguson from Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation presented their locally developed staff engagement programme, Go Engage.
  • North Devon Healthcare NHS Trust on using a technology tool to improve feedback from staff.
  • Sheena Cumiskey, chief executive, Cheshire and Wirral Partnership talked about how they are seeing results from how they are linking data on patient and staff experience.
  • Jeremy Dawson provided a reflective analysis on the NHS Staff Survey and how trends have changed over the years.

You can find these in the staff engagement resource library.

Engaging discussion

Throughout the day the discussion sessions provided an opportunity to share a wide range of innovative ideas that organisations have tried. Some of these ideas were informal and unusual. For example, one trust had instituted a ’tea and cake trolley’, which was taken round the wards by senior leaders to support informal discussions and communications.

Other ideas discussed were more formal, such as developing area based action plans to tackle issues raised by the survey, or creating working groups to work out solutions to issues identified in the survey.

There has been an increase in the number of organisations who have seen a positive impact on their staff engagement levels, simply by how they communicated their results, using the ’you said-we did’ method. More and more organisations are now making use of technology to support increased feedback such as crowdsourcing applications or continuous online survey tools.

These tools enable more in depth participation by staff and more up to date assessment of staff views. If you would like more information on these tools, please email me.

Staff engagement in other parts of the NHS

The NHS Blood and Transplant organisation has developed its own staff survey, working with a diverse range of staff to develop the questions. The survey is completed online and through mobile devices. With the last survey achieving an 80 per cent response rate, the project team are now working up an action plan based on the results.

Continued support for staff

The NHS will continue to face major challenges in sustaining and developing staff engagement. However, by constantly sharing innovative and effective new methods will help along the way.

Please take a look at our range of case studies on the staff engagement web pages.

We are particularly keen to know if any trusts have been successfully involving staff in quality improvement. If you have examples or learning to share, or if you have any other local experiences that you wants others to know about, please get in touch.

Steven Weeks is policy manager at NHS Employers and the lead on staff engagement.

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