Do you care what your staff think of working for your trust? Should you care? It is that time of year when we all receive our annual staff and patient survey results.
But with surveys there is an inclination to accept the wording of questions when we like the results and an opposite tendency to criticise the wording or methodology adopted when the results are not to our liking.
Staff surveys inevitably attract some criticism from those completing them, as they claim not to see what the findings were and what their employer did about them. In all honesty, we must put our hands up on this one. My own experience has been that a huge amount of work has been done in response to staff survey findings but, nonetheless, when the next one comes around, the same criticism emerges.
The most charitable view of this could be that we are all acting conscientiously to resolve staff concerns, but somehow we forget or neglect to tell staff what we have done. A less charitable view may be that as managers we find it hard to accept that we might not have taken staff concerns seriously - coupled with a lack of rigour in telling staff what we are doing to improve their lot in life.
Our staff survey response rate went up this year from 49 per cent to 62 per cent. Not a truly outstanding figure and we will seek to get it higher still in future years, but a pleasing rise. We achieved this through better communication and allowing staff paid time to complete the survey.
However, many of our selected staff still chose not to complete it. Given that completion rates in patient surveys come in higher, this should be viewed as a salutary lesson for all of us. Yes - paying our own people to complete surveys is less successful than asking the unpaid public.
There are, however, some reasons why perhaps now we need to refresh our attitude to this issue.
It is excellent that staff satisfaction and morale now form part of the operating framework and that we are requested to develop a trajectory for the next four years to demonstrate improvement. It is also good news that, further to his review of Modernising Medical Careers, Sir John Tooke's final recommendations include one which argues that education and development should form part of the Healthcare Commission's standards and therefore the health check ratings. In short, our ability to run organisations may be compromised if we are not able to demonstrate improvement in this area.
According to occupational psychologists, almost every type of behaviour can be categorised as assertive, passive or aggressive. There are also studies which indicate that many NHS staff exhibit more passive behaviour than the general population.
People who exhibit this behaviour type are unlikely to do anything to improve their own situation. The message from this as managers is that it is down to us, as it is unlikely that our staff will ever really do anything to improve satisfaction themselves.
So when you see your staff survey this year, what are you going to do that is different from previous years?