NHS Staff Survey 2016

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The 2016 NHS Staff Survey results have been published. They demonstrate continued progress in improving staff engagement levels in the NHS despite the pressures on the service. This reflects the efforts of organisations to improve people management even in a challenging environment. 

NHS Employers is pleased to see that the overwhelming majority of key findings have improved. In some cases these improvements are small but build on scores that were the highest achieved since 2012.

Staff engagement in the survey

There has been a small increase in the overall staff engagement score for the NHS rising from 3.78 to 3.79. This score is made up of indicators for improvements in levels of motivation, involvement and the willingness to recommend the NHS as a place to work and be treated. 

  • The key finding for involvement increased very slightly from 69.8 to 70.3 per cent.
  • The key finding for motivation remained stable at 3.92.
  • The key finding for willingness to recommend the service increased from 3.72 to 3.75.


The main movement in the staff engagement score is with the involvement element. 

There has been a renewed focus on involvement in many NHS organisations and these scores demonstrate the positive impact. Trusts have adopted a range of initiatives and interventions to support improved staff involvement. This focus has resulted in an overall slight increase. 

The involvement score is made up of three questions that measure involvement at different levels in the organisation. 

  • The score for 'There are frequent opportunities for me to show initiative in my role' has remained stable at 73 per cent.
  • The score for 'I am able to make suggestions to improve the work of my team' has increased from 74 to 76 per cent.
  • The score for 'I am able to make improvements happen in my area of work' stayed the same at 56 per cent.

Levels of involvement are generally higher at team and ward level and there are variations between the scores for questions that refer to involvement at different levels of the organisation.

Involvement related questions in the survey

  • Staff being involved in decisions on changes that affect their team and department has remained stable at 52 per cent nationally, although there are notably better scores for this in some trusts.
  • Although still relatively lower than for other measures the scores for how staff feel involved with senior managers have improved. 
  • There has also been an improvement in the scores for senior managers acting on staff feedback ,up from 30 to 32 per cent, and involving staff, from 32 to 33 per cent.

The motivation levels for NHS staff are traditionally high and have improved since 2011. The score is made up of questions which include, whether staff look forward to going to work and are enthusiastic about their work. Despite the intensifying pressure on the NHS workforce these scores show that staff remain very positive about their jobs.

Willingness to recommend the NHS

The survey asks if overall staff would recommend the NHS as a place to work and to be treated. Six out of ten NHS staff would recommend their organisation as a place to work, up from 59 per cent in 2015, and seven out of ten as a place to be treated, up from 69 per cent in 2015. 

How the NHS Staff engagement score is calculated 

These are the measures used to make up the NHS staff engagement score.

KF1: Staff recommendation of the organisation as a place to work or receive treatment 
  • Care of patients / service users is my organisation’s top priority.
  • I would recommend my organisation as a place to work.
  • If a friend or a relative needed treatment, I would be happy with the standard of care provided by this organisation.
KF4: Staff motivation at work 
  • I look forward to going to work.
  • I am enthusiastic when I am working.
  • Time passes quickly when I am working.
KF7: Staff ability to contribute towards improvement at work
  • I am able to make suggestions to improve the work of my team / department. 
  • There are frequent opportunities for me to show initiative in my role.
  •  I am able to make improvements happen in my area of work.

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