The IPA report “Meeting the Challenge-successful employee engagement in the NHS” provides an invaluable insight into how NHS organisations are sustaining staff engagement in challenging times. It showcases the successful approaches taken by differing organisations such as Kingston Hospital, Oxleas mental health and community services, and the Royal Marsden Hospital. They serve populations from Chelsea to inner city Manchester.  

Previous reports have concentrated on highlighting the scale of the engagement challenge in the NHS or looking at lessons from other sectors. This report instead shares experience from NHS organisations that have either sustained successful staff engagement or increased engagement significantly over time.  Through developing effective approaches to staff engagement, these Trusts have been able to meet the current challenges in the NHS.

The common elements to their approach are that staff engagement is not a separate HR activity but an essential part of how things are done and a key ingredient on meeting overall objective of improving patient care.

Key elements of their approach include:

  • committed leadership that is highly visible and seeks feedback from staff
  • employee voice with leaders prepared to act on staff ideas
  • partnership working with local staff side
  • support for line manager to develop their teams

These Trusts have utilised a range of techniques, with Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust using Appreciative Inquiry and Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust introducing quality improvement groups. Partnership working has been especially well developed at the Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust where the staff side chair is also head of partnership. The case studies make for fascinating reading and provide some great examples of best practice.

In addition to taking part the national staff survey, these Trusts have developed innovative ways of seeking employee views.  

This report was produced by IPA on behalf with support from NHS Employers and we hope to work with IPA over coming months to further develop employee involvement in the NHS.