Staff engagement presents a significant challenge within the NHS.1 It goes beyond mere job satisfaction, encapsulating how staff are physically, mentally, and emotionally invested in their work, which in turn can have a profound impact on patient safety and recovery.1 The NHS providers with high levels of staff engagement (as measured in the annual NHS Staff Survey) tend to have lower levels of patient mortality, make better use of resources, and deliver stronger financial performance.2 Engagement is shown to be particularly important: having significant associations with patient satisfaction, patient mortality, infection rates, Annual Health Check scores, as well as staff absenteeism and turnover.3 Disengagement in staff can contribute to burnout—a state of physical and emotional exhaustion that can severely impact the quality of healthcare services. To address this challenge, staff development is vital; creating opportunities for employees to become more skilled in their roles not only improves the standard of care but also helps staff achieve their career ambitions, ultimately contributing to a more effective and resilient workforce.4
Challenges, Costs, and Innovative Solutions to Staff Engagement
Ensuring consistent staff engagement is a complex task, particularly within the NHS. The pressures of long working hours, high patient loads, and administrative burdens often lead to stress and, in some cases, burnout. Many staff report routinely working beyond their normal hours just to get all their tasks done.5 From the 2020 NHS Staff Survey, we can see 55.2% of staff continue to work additional unpaid hours on a weekly basis.6 The 12-hour shifts that are the norm across much of the health service are worked only by 14% of nurses across Europe.7 These factors can lead to poor staff retention.5
Based on training costs and likely recruitment challenges in the coming years, the cost of not addressing the issue of declining staff retention rates is estimated to be £21.7 billion.8 Additionally, a one standard deviation increase in overall engagement is associated with a drop of 0.9 per cent in spend on agency staff.9 This suggests that improving staff engagement could lead to substantial savings in recruitment costs.9 The challenge for enhancing staff engagement is multifaceted, involving not just workload management but also the emotional and psychological well-being of staff.
Whilst staff retention has become a large issue, there have been a number of initiatives implemented to attract staff both locally and internationally. Resources such as the “Inspire, Attract and Recruit toolkit” have been developed to help HR professionals, recruitment teams, and managers inspire, attract, and recruit their future workforce.10 International efforts for recruitment include the partnering of NHS England and Health Education England (HEE) with the government to increase ethical international recruitment and build partnerships with new countries.11
Support packages for the NHS
At J&J MedTech, we want all healthcare professionals to feel valued and empowered. We have developed Education Support Packages which provide evidence-based solutions to foster professional development, boost morale, improve retention and support the health and wellbeing of the workforce. These packages can support with:
- Effective communication through understanding personality types
- Building a high performing team
- Running effective & engaging meetings
- Giving & receiving feedback effectively
- Managing difficult conversations & negotiating resolutions
- Situational leadership & leadership styles
- How to run a continuous improvement workshop
“The big difference with J&J is that they have spent time with us as a team, been visible in our department, and supported us to test and implement improvements. This has been a really good opportunity for us.” Mary Keal Cath Lab Manager, St. George’s Hospital NHS Trust
Unlocking the Benefits of Enhanced Staff Engagement
Improved staff engagement is a win-win situation for everyone involved. For patients, it means safer, more effective care, and for the NHS, it translates to better operational efficiency and potential savings. Therefore, targeted efforts are needed to improve staff engagement within the NHS.
One such effort is the education support packages offered by Johnson & Johnson's Services & Solutions division. These packages aim to foster professional and team development while enhancing morale among healthcare staff. By investing in the continuous education and well-being of healthcare professionals, we can create a more engaged, efficient, and ultimately, more effective NHS.
- Improving NHS Care by Engaging Staff and Devolving Decision-Making Report of the Review of Staff Engagement and Empowerment in the NHS. Available at: https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/sites/default/files/field/field_publication_file/improving-nhs-care-by-engaging-staff-and-devolving-decision-making-jul14.pdf [Accessed November 2023].
- The Kings Fund. Staff engagement Six building blocks for harnessing the creativity and enthusiasm of NHS staff. Available at: https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/sites/default/files/field/field_publication_file/staff-engagement-feb-2015.pdf [Accessed November 2023].
- West M, et al. NHS Staff Management and Health Service Quality. Results from the NHS Staff Survey and Related Data. Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/215455/dh_129656.pdf [Accessed November 2023].
- Mandatory Training Group. Why is staff training important in health and social care? Available at: https://www.mandatorytraining.co.uk/blogs/dr-richard-dune/why-is-staff-training-important-in-health-and-social-care [Accessed November 2023].
- The Guardian. Record numbers of NHS staff quitting due to long hours. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/feb/17/nhs-staff-quit-record-numbers-work-life-balance [Accessed November 2023].
- Medical School Expert. How Many Hours Do Doctors Work? (Real-Life Figures). Available at: https://medicalschoolexpert.co.uk/how-many-hours-do-doctors-work/ [Accessed November 2023].
- The Guardian. Bring in four-day week to stop exodus of NHS workers, say campaigners. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2023/mar/30/four-day-week-stop-exodus-nhs-workers [Accessed November 2023].
- Nurses. NHS Staff Retention Review: Costs & Impacts. Available at: https://www.nurses.co.uk/blog/the-complex-costs-of-failing-to-retain-nhs-staff/ [Accessed November 2023].
- NHS England. Employee engagement, sickness absence and agency spend in NHS trusts. Available at: https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/wres-engagement-absence-agency-spend.pdf [Accessed November 2023].
- NHS Employers. Inspire, Attract and Recruit toolkit: Resources and guidance to support your workforce supply. Available at: https://www.nhsemployers.org/inspire-attract-and-recruit [Accessed November 2023].
- NHS England. Focus on recruitment. Available at: https://www.england.nhs.uk/ournhspeople/online-version/growing-for-the-future/focus-on-recruitment/ [Accessed November 2023].