No free gift this week I’m afraid, but there is a challenge for you, at the end of my blog this week.
The results of the 2013 NHS Staff Survey have been published. The response from NHS Employers celebrates improvements, but openly acknowledges areas the NHS still needs to improve on.
Staff experience is a really important area and we have been looking at the results of the survey relating to our CCG staff and those of our local providers. We’re seeing how we can use this information in our organisational development plans to improve the experience of people working for us.
Both where I work and in the wider NHS, there is still a lot to do to improve the experience of staff. This includes looking at how we can be more open and transparent, as discussed in my postlast week. In recent times there has, quite rightly, been significant focus on improving care, outcomes and experience for patients. There has also been much activity aimed at improving staff experience, but not as much as that aimed at patients. For those more directly involved in the NHS, you will recognise that much of this has come ‘post-Francis’. I don’t mean to belittle the significant work done before this to improve staff and patient experience, but this has driven the focus in the past year.
I believe that we should look more holistically at ‘people experience’ and not always separate out patients and staff when we address at how our organisations ‘behave’. An organisation’s culture is made up of the collective behaviours of staff within it towards each other and to patients, carers, the public and others who we work with day-to-day. If we take a more rounded view of our values and behaviours; what drives us and influences our organisational cultures we will see that these probably don’t differ too greatly in terms of staff or patients. If we want to show compassion and achieve positive outcomes for patients (and we do!); then we should do the same for staff.
If we set up project groups, working parties or task and finish groups just in response to survey results trying to ‘fix’ problem areas we will not make the changes we need to really make a difference. We need to look at the staff survey results alongside other sources of information about how others experience the behaviours and cultures of our organisations. If patient surveys say that there are issues with how we communicate with patients and staff surveys say the same; there is something quite fundamental that we need to address about communication within the organisation. ‘People Experience’ is not a new concept outside of the NHS so we can learn from those who do it well. For example, FirstDirect have been doing this for years, i.e. driving improved experience for their customers directly through how they treat and engage their staff.
There is an opportunity for NHS organisations to do the same; really invest in staff, focus on their experience; senior leaders treat staff how we expect them to behave with our patients. I know there’s a lot of rhetoric about leadership and culture, but I truly believe that if members of NHS Boards do this right it will have an amazing impact.
So, I challenge you to find out whether your local NHS organisation (or your employer if you work in the NHS) has set up a ‘Staff Survey Working Group’ or similar, exclusively looking at the results and with the intention to draw up an action plan of how to address these issues in isolation. If you find this to be the case, ask whoever is the most senior leader responsible for this area how this will be integrated into work that you will inevitably also be doing on patient experience. Do suggest that there may be value to both areas and therefore to staff & patients to look at these together.