Health and Social Care services routinely collect workforce data. This data can be extremely useful in providing information about the wellbeing of staff.
Regular and robust analysis of the data collated can highlight areas of concern and lead to targeted interventions to support staff wellbeing. Analysis of the data can also allow services to monitor the strengths and weaknesses of workplace policies and practices over time.
Surveys give staff the opportunity to feel listened to and provide feedback on key areas of their work. It has now been made a requirement for NHS Trusts to collect quarterly staff survey data (the NHS People Pulse survey can be used for this).
Examples of surveys:
- NHS Staff Survey - NHS staff are invited to take part in the NHS Staff Survey on a yearly basis. It gathers views on staff experiences in key areas including: appraisal and development, health and wellbeing, staff engagement and involvement, raising concerns.
- NHS People Pulse - Designed to take five minutes to use, the NHS People Pulse survey asks employees how supported, informed, motivated or anxious they feel and what support would make the biggest difference to their experience at work.
- Culture Assessment Tool (CAT) - A digital questionnaire that all CNWL NHS staff are invited to complete. It takes approximately 15 minutes and measures the aspects of culture directly related to performance, quality of care and service user satisfaction.
- Skills for Health Survey - Skills for Health is a not-for-profit organisation who survey employers and employees within the health and care sectors, capturing their views of current workforce skills and competencies needs. This year’s Skills for Health Survey focuses on the following themes: COVID-19, flexible working, skills and training, changing workforce, organisational development, equality, diversity and inclusion.
- High response rates help to ensure that survey results are representative of the trust/organisation. Methods for improving response can be found here.
- The key to keeping staff engaged in surveys (and avoiding survey fatigue) is taking action on the information gathered. This year, the results of the NHS Staff Survey led to the development of the People Promise: to work together to improve the experience of working in the NHS for everyone.
- Creating your own surveys – Some organisations/trusts may wish to take questions from existing surveys or write their own questions to better understand the experiences and needs of their staff (this can be done via Survey Monkey)
Recognising the increasing pressure on NHS and Healthcare workers, the Hounslow Consortium created a Wellbeing Survey for staff working in primary care services. The survey (completed via survey monkey) included questions from the NHS Staff Survey while all responses were anonymous. The survey aimed to measure staffs’ current level of physical and emotional wellbeing as well as assess how staff felt they could best be supported. The feedback (currently still in collection) will allow the team to design support specifically tailored to identified needs.
Occasional illness is normal and to be anticipated, and many staff may have to take some days off during the year. In some instances, frequent or recurring sickness absences can be a sign of an underlying problem within an organisation.
Keeping accurate and updated data on sickness absences – for example, the dates and broad reason for absence - is essential for understanding the wider context of sickness absence within an organisation.
Services may vary in ways of collecting absence data. In some organisations, managers may hold this data, while in others it may be held by HR. It is important to note that this information is considered sensitive and employers should ensure that they are following data protection guidelines when requesting reasons for absence (Data Protection act 2018)
Analysing sickness absence data may allow employers to identify concerning trends in absence in order to implement interventions within the workplace to support staff health. For example, research suggests that a high proportion of sickness absence within healthcare teams is due to musculoskeletal difficulties and early workplace interventions may reduce the likelihood of staff encountering these difficulties.
Some organisations, such as the NHS, publish data on sickness absence. Managers may be able to compare absence data within their team to wider organisational averages to determine if there is greater level of absence within their team. Gov.uk have developed a workplace wellbeing tool which allows employers to work out the costs of poor employee health to their organisation and create a business case for taking action.
Frequent employee turnover can have a damaging impact on an organisations’ performance; therefore, a goal of organisations should be to implement strategies which help to retain staff.
Recruiting new employees can take time and usually there is a large cost attached, furthermore high levels of staff vacancy can have a knock-on effect on the ability of the service to operate and the workloads of current staff.
Information on staff turnover can be gathered by analysing the proportion of staff who enter and exit their roles within the service. Total turnover is a calculation of the number of individuals that leave the staff group over the year, expressed as a percentage. It is important to measure whether the employee remains working in the same Trust, within a different NHS role or leave the NHS. By collecting and analysing data on staff turnover, organisations can better understand:
- Why staff are leaving their roles?
- Who is leaving? For example, are staff from a certain demographic or team leaving more frequently?
- The impact which staff turnover has on the organisation and its employees.
Best practice in measuring and managing staff turnover
- CIPD have created an Employee Turnover & Retention Factsheet.
- The Health Foundation have published the following paper exploring trends in staff retention within the NHS.
Looking at themes from data within internal services such as Occupational Health, Organisational Development and Employee Assistance Programme, will allow you to have a richer understanding of the mental wellbeing of your workforce and make improvements based on these. For example:
- Is there a particular time of the year when referrals to psychological support services increase/decrease?
- What kind of difficulties are staff bringing to sessions?
- Are there certain kinds of professions accessing these services more than others?
Counsellor Tanja Koch from Healthy Workplace, Healthy You, noted:
"A common theme is that individuals push themselves too hard while they assume they ‘should cope’. Feelings of guilt and shame, fear of letting others down, or being reprimanded adds to their already increased stress and anxiety levels. There can be a tendency not to address psychological symptoms and physical manifestations of stress and anxiety or work-life balance issues”