What the NHS can teach us about employee engagement

Engaging employees is a concept that has become more and more frequently talked about in recent years. As evidence grows to suggest that engaging employees has positive outcomes, employers are increasingly starting to consider engagement strategies a priority.


An ‘engaged’ employee can be defined in several ways, but summed up as “A positive attitude held by the employee towards the organisation and its values. An engaged employee is aware of business context, and works with colleagues to improve performance within the job for the benefit of the organisation. The organisation must work to develop and nurture engagement, which requires a two-way relationship between employer and employee.” (Institute of Employment Studies).


A recent employee satisfaction survey from a large human resources organisation revealed a number of useful and interesting outcomes of increased levels of engagement. It found that the employee value proposition is breaking down.

Not only are employees feeling more positive about their employers, they are talking about them in a more positive way and striving to perform better for them, which goes some way towards explaining why those companies who invest in engagement strategies as part of the employee lifecycle outperform those average companies who don’t. The survey also found that three key drivers of increased engagement were career opportunities, managing performance and organisational reputation.

A further recent study examining the engagement of employees within the NHS revealed that levels of employee engagement can be strongly linked to patient satisfaction, employee wellbeing and even important clinical outcomes, such as mortality rates.

Put simply, engaging employees is an essential step in ensuring the continued success of any organisation.

It seems a number of lessons can be learned from these findings. Not just within the health sector, but for the business world in general.

The report, commissioned for Healthcare People Managers Association and NHS Employers identified effective engagement approaches used within eight trusts, all considered to be high performing.


Outlined below are strongly transferable and can be employed in most industries:

Strong Organisational Values – A set of clear values, developed with, not for, employees. To enable full integration, these values should be communicated constantly and must form the foundation for HR processes. Managers and senior leaders must be seen to adhere to these value through their actions and decision making processes.

Senior Leadership – A variety of channels must be open to allow employees to engage with senior leaders at all times.

Line Managers – Must be on hand to support employees through appraisal, barrier removal and team building.

Employee Voice – Employees must feel able to communicate concerns and make suggestions for improvements. They must feel an integral part of the decision-making process.

Partnership Working – Establishing a culture of partnership working across the board, based primarily on trust, is another key strategy.

The sooner employees become ‘engaged’, within the employee cycle, the better and more effective the process will be. Strategies should be instigated at every level and be long-term.


Advantages and disadvantages of team-building as a way to create employee engagement

credits: Getty ImagesManagers refer to employee engagement as an essential element in retaining high caliber workers. The advantages and disadvantages of team-building are clear: without a team-building premise, employees may feel adrift and lack necessary supervision; the disadvantages of team-building can make some employees, e.g. entrepreneurial ‘rain-makers,’ feel stifled or tied to the hip of a less-able to perform administrative manager. Building team culture requires clear goals and great communications skills. An overview of some of the pros and cons of team-building include:

Successful team-building delivers advantages. 
Team-building management skills are highly valued in the workplace. When the manager helps the team come together, he always manages change. He identifies the change facing the team and presents his findings to the team. He continuously manages those team members resistant to change. Importantly, he communicates how the changes create opportunities for individuals and the team. Managers know they’re team-building because:

1. Great teams allow participants to collaborate with management leadership. According to authors Robert Barner and Charlotte Barner, (“Building Better Teams,” 2012) team building develops individual and group accountability by focusing on individual and team success. The successful team-building manager must overcome the sense of “vague” commitment barriers within the team. She must lay out team ground rules and actively promote boundaries within the team. Building a team shouldn’t involve including each team member in others’ action plans. Careful project management within the team allows individuals to commit to the performance of certain tasks. Team meetings allow the manager to check-off performed tasks and reached goals.

2. Each team member’s action plan distinguishes between the intention to perform needed tasks and the actuality of performing them. The manager should use ‘real-time planning’ methods whenever possible, to keep the team’s focus on what needs to occur now (instead of any future point).

3. “What’s next” thinking is the team’s language. Every team member continuously clarifies the a vision summary and organizes action priorities. Team members can’t wait to react. Employee engagement occurs because members of this manager’s team can’t wait to get to work every day. They are encouraged by their leader’s ability to decipher org changes or macroeconomic trends. Employee satisfaction is evident. The successful team isn’t static, and remains fueled by management trust.

Unsuccessful team-building delivers disadvantages. 
Almost every employee with at least five years’ work experience knows an unsuccessful team-builder in management. Perhaps the manager is a finance genius. She’s great at tweaking costs and saving money, but she doesn’t understand why people want to work together. According to Patrick Lencioni, (“The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable,” 2010) this manager doesn’t see the big picture or the details. Managers know they’re failing at team-building when:

1. Too many internal team meetings populate the calendars of the team: the manager tends to micromanage his reports, and everyone on the team knows who’s got credibility with the manager (and who doesn’t). The manager breeds distrust and fails at facilitating collaboration. He seems to enjoy clipping the wings of those seeking to soar. People in sales and marketing positions spend too much time answering the manager’s questions or creating reports. Productivity suffers and the manager points fingers at the team. People call in sick and human resources gets involved with performance reviews.

2. Senior management hears that every member of the manager’s team is an underachiever. The manager decides she’s just got to lay-off a few people and rehire “her own people.”

3. Political unrest occurs in the team. The manager seems to encourage time-wasting. Positive reinforcement by the manager does not happen. Ever. Employee satisfaction is non-existent. Everyone on the team, including the manager, is looking for a new job.

Employees want to work with others in teams because they enjoy social behavior. Not all teams come together without masterful management orchestration. The successful team-building manager is hands-on, but not too much. Team-building is an advantage because employees desire positive reinforcement. In conclusion, satisfied employees are happy, long-term contributors of the organization.

Are employee surveys a good way to create engagement?

 Hearing employee survey concerns and taking the proper action is one of the number one ways of increasing employee engagement.

Employee engagement  by surveysMost successful companies place their employees on the top of the list high priority resources. As a result, they are concerned with keeping their employees engaged and active in all of the company’s goals and objectives. However, to keep their ears at the heart of their employees’ concerns and issues, some companies are using employee surveys as a method to create employee engagement.

Creating Engagement by Asking the Right Questions
while some companies are well-versed in getting the data that’s needed to take action, others may need additional guidance to ensure the right information is collected from their surveys. Therefore, these companies must design their surveys so that they collect precise data on key topics instead of abstract or vague information. For example, if a company would like to find out what type of training is needed to facilitate better job performance, they should include a question on the survey that focuses on the best types of training courses needed (i.e. formal classroom training courses, interactive training, online courses etc.). Since there is a wide diversity of training courses available today, most employees may prefer to take the non-traditional online courses instead of formal classroom traditional training. By asking the employees the type that they prefer in a survey form, the management in the company can respond accordingly. In some cases, the responses may be split 50/50. Consequently, the management may want to add an additional training option to their curriculum so that these employees can work at their own pace.

Employee Buy-In and Major Decisions
Employee surveys are also a great way to give the employees buy-in when major changes are being made. For instance, when a company has to make major changes because of external forces, employees are often more engaged when they have had some input into making the new procedures. So, if the company includes a question about the upcoming changes in a survey, they can give the employees buy-in and obtain valuable information as well.

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The Importance of Job Evaluation in Assuring Equal Pay for Women

Engagement Survey on Gender Equality

Engagement Survey on Gender Equality

Significant gender inequality in pay is considered as one of the most resilient features in the labor industry all over the world. Even if the gender pay gap has already narrowed in some countries, women continue to work for a much lower pay compared to men. Such trend continues regardless of the striking advances when it comes to women’s work experience as well as educational attainment.

The gender pay gap is caused by several factors. One of these factors is sex discrimination in salary. Many have sought to address the discrimination in pay through ensuring that men and women receive equal pay not just for the same kind of work but also for the jobs with equal value. Such principle is fundamental when it comes to the attainment of gender equality.
Job Assessment Methods to Determine Jobs of Equal Value
Determining if two different jobs that are different in terms of its content have equal value will require some methods when comparing the job. Job evaluation methods are considered as the tools that help ascertain the relative value of the jobs. Thus, these can also determine whether the corresponding pay is just.
Job assessment methods must be free from any gender bias implications in order to have an objective as well as fair assessment of jobs. If these are not the case, the key dimensions of the jobs that are normally performed by women have a higher risk in being disregarded or perhaps values lower than those jobs typically performed by men. The results would involve the continuation of the undervaluation of the jobs for women and the reinforcement of gender pay gap.
Benefits of Job Assessment and Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value
There are a lot of advantages of having equal pay for work of equal value. First, this promotes more effective utilization of skills for both men and women. Additionally, this will have a positive impact on the female workers. Having equal pay for work with equal value also promotes better human resource management. In addition to this, better working relationships are promoted between male workers and female workers. Moreover, this promotes positive effects in terms of the reputation as well as the attractiveness of the business.
Another benefit of pay equity is the greater efficiency in the staffing practices of an organization. This is manifested by the less time devoted by the employees in the recruitment process. There will also be a better perception in terms of workplace equity as well as improved labor relations. This is manifested through greater job satisfaction as well as the stronger commitment of the employees to the business.