The 2017 NHS Staff Survey results: a brief review

Steven Weeks

Steven Weeks, policy manager at NHS Employers, has written this blog following the publication of the 2017 NHS Staff Survey results and the subsequent analysis work undertaken by NHS Employers. 

In March and April 2018, staff engagement leads from across the NHS met to discuss the 2017 NHS Staff Survey results in workshops in Leeds and London. One top of these workshops, the results were also discussed in our HRD networks and in social partnership forums. I’d like to thank everyone who took part in these discussions for their insight and involvement.

Unfortunately, the 2017 survey showed a small fall in overall staff engagement levels in the service following four years of sustained improvement. It’s my view that this is evidence of increasing pressures on staff and other negative staff experiences adversely affecting staff morale.

Overall the results present a challenging picture although there was still some positive progress on key scores such as confidence in employer action on health and wellbeing and line manager support. On staff engagement, the overall indicator showed a fall but levels remain higher than in 2013 and there was progress on measures of organisational involvement.

These meetings were a positive opportunity to share experiences and learn from each other. It is clear that the results were not due to lack of activity on staff engagement issues. A wide range of ideas and suggestions were shared, these ranged from organisation wide involvement approaches to focusing on issues such as reforming appraisal, support for line managers and linking to health and wellbeing. Organisations also discussed how to raise response rates, make best use of survey data and how to sustain engagement in face of tough financial and service pressures.

This feedback was further reinforced in a webinar as well as in discussions in our regional HRD networks. As a result, the networks will be focussing on key issues across their areas. Staff engagement, health and wellbeing, and tackling bullying and harassment will be national priority areas.

Following from the meetings and webinar, NHS Employers is publishing a range of new case studies picking up on some of themes identified. We will also be looking to provide more support for the organisations with the greatest challenges and sharing ideas on issues such as supporting line managers and making best use of NHS Staff Survey data.

The new resources will be made available on our website over the next few months and we will be developing a new staff engagement email bulletin alongside our existing staff engagement newsletter. If you would like to be the staff engagement lead for your organisation or have ideas for our staff engagement work programme please get in touch with me via

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