New ideas and new challenges

Steven Weeks

In this blog, Steven Weeks policy manager and staff engagement lead at NHS Employers, discusses new ideas and new challenges for NHS organisations now all the 2015 staff survey results are in.

I'm pleased to see the improvements from organisations in the recent 2015 staff survey results. This is a reflection of the sustained focus from employers and returns the NHS to its previous record of improvement in staff engagement since the current measure was created in 2012.

I'm especially pleased to see that there is a significant increase in the number of ‘substantially improved’, scores, which includes a number of organisations that had historically been challenged for low results.

How have they done it?

It is clear that staff engagement interventions have a positive impact on the results, especially on the feeling of staff involvement. Also, wider factors, such as the improvement in staffing levels, reflected on the motivational element of engagement. Read more about the type of interventions NHS organisations have tried and tested to foster and improve staff engagement on the Staff Engagement web pages. They are also documented in the Care Quality Commission inspection reports which provide detailed information on most trusts.

The results are in…

The focus now turns to taking action based on the results and organisations will be looking at their results to understand more about any local trends and to develop ideas for working with their local data. There is a wealth of information available on the NHS Staff Survey website and NHS Employers has produced resources to help track national trends and to support organisations to map their own results

NHS Employers engagement teams will be working with regional HRD networks and social partnership forum networks to identify data trends and take effective action.

We are moving into a new and even more challenging period for the NHS

The financial pressures that continue to face the service and the need to make unprecedented productivity savings, added to changing how services are delivered will all create new staff engagement challenges.

Over the next few months we will focus on the work of organisations that have developed new and innovative ideas for sustaining good levels of engagement by exploring different angles.

  • Using technology as a tool to support engagement. A new report from the Involvement and Participation Association, which will be published in the near future highlights trusts that have used a range of different technology tools to support communication and involvement. NHS Employers is also talking to leading providers who are using these tools to see how they are progressing.
  • Involving staff effectively in the search for efficiency savings.  There is strong evidence of the benefits of this from the private sector and from organisations that have already implemented this approach. We are keen to share examples, ideas and experiences in all of these areas.
  • The role of line managers. We will continue to highlight organisations that support their managers to foster staff engagement. In my latest podcast I take a self-assessment questionnaire on ‘what type of manager are you’? I also meet up with Dilys Robinson from the Institute of Employment Studies to talk about my results and delve a little deeper into understanding your capacity to be an engaging manager.

What else is to come?

The clinical commissioning group (CCG) assurance framework makes clear that CCGs should be looking at their staff engagement data. So, over the next year we will look into the role of commissioners and their link to staff engagement. We will send more information on how this will be applied when it becomes available. 

Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Trust has developed its own survey tool that allows for a deeper understanding of staff outlook. I'm pleased to be contributing to their Go Engage event on Monday 9 May.

We have just marked the anniversary of William Shakespeare and he once said “it is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” It is certainly the case with staff engagement.

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