The results of the NHS staff survey for 2014, released last week, paint a dismal picture of morale with just 41% of staff feeling that their employer valued their work, 39% stating they had been made unwell by work-related stress and only 56% being willing to recommend their organisation as a place to work. Furthermore, just 37% felt that communication from senior management was effective and only 29% reported that senior managers act on feedback from staff.
Low morale and lack of trust in management are two of the biggest factors influencing staff turnover and, in turn, the quality of care provided. Recognising these issues promptly within your own organisation is essential in preventing problems from escalating and having negative consequences for your business. Read on to find out more about the steps you should be taking to spot problems with staff morale quickly and to deal with them effectively.
Staff morale is the gauge by which the success, or failure, of any care service can be measured. Happy, well-motivated staff provide good quality care, attract others to join your care team and are your best advertisement to potential clients. Sadly, any slip in morale can have the opposite effect and, unless you have systems in place to monitor morale and motivation, you may be the last to know that there is a problem.
4 Steps to Tackle Morale Problems in Your Service
- Effective supervision: supervision can become routine and seen as just another task to be completed in the drive towards achieving compliance. However, all supervisors should be aware of the need to monitor mood and morale amongst staff and to look for the tell-tale signs that a team member is lacking motivation, frustrated or has any issues that are affecting their ability to provide compassionate care. The relationship between supervisor and supervisee needs to be based on the supervisee trusting that their supervisor will listen to, and act on, concerns rather than just ‘going through the motions’ of supervision. Most staff will only raise a concern once, in the hope of receiving a response but if you fail to act, the opportunity to turn a situation around will have been missed.
- Feedback tools: having tools that allow staff to provide feedback directly to managers is a powerful way of allowing them to express concerns and frustrations and to enable prompt action to be taken before frustration sets in. A simple feedback box in which staff can leave comments (anonymously if desired) can be a useful basic tool but steps such as ensuring all staff know how and when to contact their manager to discuss issues is equally important. An e-mail address, direct line number or daily contact time can all encourage staff to bring issues to you.
- Seeking out problems: feedback tools are useful but they rely on your staff taking the initiative and bringing their problems to you. Act proactively by setting aside time every day to seek out staff and talk to them about their work. Your interest will encourage them to share any issues with you and will also give you a first-hand opportunity to look out for changes in morale and motivation and to act quickly to address them.
- Staff surveys: as the NHS staff survey shows, such tools can be a helpful means of measuring the level of morale and satisfaction within an organisation. Developing your own tool to monitor your team could provide you with your own set of statistics to measure changes in morale, the effectiveness of any actions you take and also be a useful way of demonstrating to inspectors and commissioners that you have a happy, well-motivated staff team.