NHS HR chiefs are optimistic about the year ahead, with nearly half claiming that staff morale has improved over the past 12 months, according to an internal poll.
Nearly half (45%) of 139 HR directors polled prior to the NHS Employers annual conference this week said staff morale had improved in the past year, while 64% said they expected engagement to improve further in the year ahead.
Alastair Henderson, joint acting director of NHS Employers said: "Statistics on staff morale are also encouraging, and with staff engagement recognised as a top priority both nationally and at a local level we would hope to see continued improvements in the year ahead." He added: "We feel the mood in the service is upbeat, although the responses acknowledged the challenges we do face in the coming months."
More than a third said service improvement and redesign was their greatest workforce priority, with staff engagement (20%) coming next on the list. Recruitment and retention followed at 13%, with 18% workforce planning was a challenge.
NHS Employers yesterday launched a briefing for NHS trusts bringing evidence on the benefits of staff engagement together with good practice examples of how to involve staff.
Henderson said: "There is more to be done to ensure staff feel engaged and NHS Employers will continue to work in partnership with trade unions on the Social Partnership Forum to take the staff engagement agenda forwards. This briefing has been produced to bring together the work we have done so far to support employers as they seek new ways of listening and responding to staff and we will continue to support them to do that."