Listening to your staff and acting on their feedback will help to create a happy workforce with a positive outlook
Staff engagement is what happens when people think and act positively about their work, colleagues and organisation. It can promote teamwork while boosting morale.
Staff engagement is vital for creating a successful work environment and, with nurses making up the largest portion of the healthcare workforce, engaging with this group is essential.
While a high level of disengagement can damage staff morale and work quality, a high level of engagement can do the opposite.
Research by Aston University has identified clear links between high levels of staff engagement, as measured in the NHS staff survey, and good patient outcomes, as measured by the patient survey. Organisations with higher levels of engagement reported higher levels of patient satisfaction and lower levels of patient mortality.
The NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement has also demonstrated that staff engagement has helped generate efficiency savings through its Productive Ward programme.
Many nurses are unhappy with their level of involvement, which makes them feel undervalued and is detrimental to their performance.
Research carried out by the Department of Health has shown that nurses having a high rate of involvement at work increases their wellbeing and reduces absenteeism. Although many nurses work hard and have pride in their job, they may feel their opinions are not as respected as some of their colleagues.
Research company Melcrum surveyed 1,000 organisations and found that when an employee engagement programme was implemented 50% of the organisations had an increase in customer satisfaction and 33% reported higher productivity.
Tips to promote staff engagement
- Hold regular meetings with staff to discuss how you can all work together to improve the organisation
- Ensure everyone is included in the meetings and decision making, and feels comfortable speaking up. This will improve communication between colleagues, and managers may hear about an idea they would not have come up with on their own
- Feed back to employees straight away if they voice their opinions. It can take courage for someone to tell a manager their opinion or give advice - encourage this by supporting staff
- Review staff survey data so you understand what nurses are saying about working for your organisation
- Support leadership development
- Communicate with your team often and on time. Doing so late or not at all can make them feel superfluous and they will not speak up about their opinions in the future
- Create incentives for staff who get involved. They will appreciate being encouraged to participate and being taken seriously
Steven Weeks is policy adviser at NHS Employers with lead responsibility for work on staff engagement. Steven joined NHS Employers in 2007 and has previously worked in policy roles for the Audit Commission, an NHS trade union and as a self employed research analyst