3. WHAT IS YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE LEVELS OF STAFF ENGAGEMENT IN YOUR ORGANISATION(S) AND THE MAIN CHALLENGES YOU CURRENTLY FACE TO IMPROVING THIS?
Our staff engagement data is currently poor;
- NSFT scored very poorly in the 2013 NHS Staff survey, being in the bottom 20% of participants on many measures. Our overall staff engagement score of 3.47 was slightly lower than the previous year, against good increases in some other trusts.
- Staff absence is running at c.5.5%, causing considerable additional loading and stress on staff at work, and considerable temporary labour cost.
- Vacancies are at c.14%, again creating considerable temporary labour cost.
Our staff engagement and morale have been impacted in recent years by (a) our merger and (b) our services redesign. Both of these, although heavily consulted on, caused considerable change.
However many mental health trusts also score poorly on these measures, reflecting the stressful, dangerous and sometimes traumatic nature of the work.
Our staff are already engaged in decision-making in ways common in Foundation Trusts, and we work hard as a board to hear the voices of staff (as well as service users, carers, Governors and other partners). We believe our staff engagement scores will improve in time with;
- greater organisational stability;
- increasing delegation to local managers, and
- higher local community involvement.
However progress is proving a long haul
We have noted some examples of very high staff engagement scores in mutuals where the most visible surface feature is excellent and charismatic leadership. Although much less visible, in our view the underlying mutual structure and ethos is a critical key in creating a culture in which such leadership styles can flourish.
Our poor levels of staff engagement and productivity, combined with the importance of these factors in mental health services, give us strong motivation to pursue mutualisation.
It appears that Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) sees an undefined and untested change in structure and ownership, mutualisation, as a panacea.
Of course, NSFT could try the novel and innovative approach of saying sorry with sincerity to its staff, clearly articulating what went wrong and why, outlining the actions being taken to put things right and who will lead them, seeing staff as the solution to problems rather than the cause.