NIHR Staff Engagement in the NHS resources

Paper stack

The National Institute of Healthcare Research (NIHR) has undertaken a major review of the evidence on staff engagement and the NHS, as part of a research project. As a result of the research findings, NIHR has produced a series of publications on key issues of staff engagement in the NHS. 

The new materials have been produced by the research team led by Professor Kate Bailey of the University of Sussex and also Dilys Robinson of the Institute of Employment Studies. NHS Employers helped develop the materials as part of an advisory group which also included employer representatives. 

New resources

The new resources are largely based on reviews of evidence from academic publications and in general do not refer to case studies, however they do include ideas and suggestions for actions that can be taken at local level. 

  • Guide to Engagement for HR  
    Aimed at HR leaders this resource looks at the role they can play in supporting and developing approaches to staff engagement in their organisation. It includes an extensive review of the evidence from a range of sectors. It also refers to evidence from the NHS, which is discussed more extensively on our staff engagement web pages.
  • Guide to Engagement for Senior Leaders
    This guide looks at the key role senior leaders can play in shaping organisational culture to support staff engagement. It summarises the evidence based review of the impact of leadership. It is the only such guidance based on an analysis of the research evidence. 
  • Guide to Engagement for Line Managers 
    This resource focuses on the key role of first level supervisors and line managers. In particular it highlights their responsibilities for developing staff engagement within their teams.  It also includes ideas for how line managers can develop their engagement skills, based on work by the Institute of Employment Studies. NHS Employers is currently running a pilot programme of training courses with seven trusts to increase the engagement skills of line managers. Further information on the results will be made available in the next few months. 
  • Review of Practitioner Studies of Engagement 
    This document summarises the way the review was conducted and how the evidence was assessed. It provides a comprehensive assessment of the evidence base on the impact of staff engagement.
  • Measuring Employee Engagement and Interpreting Results
    This includes an extensive discussion of how to use data effectively. It uses a case study from Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Trust, as well as a discussion of the national Staff Survey. It does not deal in detail with the Staff Friends and Family Test as it had not been implemented at the time of the review. 

These materials will be a useful resource for workforce leaders, alongside other materials highlighted below. You can also find out more about the NIHR project by listening to our previously published podcasts which discuss the research project in more detail. 


We are keen to hear your views on the above resources and their usability. In addition we are always looking for new case studies, so please share your experiences with us by emailing

Further resources and case studies

5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust lets talk initiative 
Deepening staff involvement at Medway
The WWL way Implementing sustainable staff engagement
Team building at Birmingham Childrens Hospital
Research report Staff experience and patient outcomes  

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