Solving Employee Turnover at the NHS

September 23, 2020

The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) is one of the largest government-run healthcare programs in the world. As of May 2020, the NHS was the United Kingdom’s largest employer, maintaining a workforce of roughly 1.3 million people. Employee turnover among medical professionals at the NHS is a persistent problem. However, by listening to its employees in a data-driven manner, the NHS has made significant strides.

Stopping Preventable Exits

At the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, which represents three hospitals, the NHS faced overwhelming preventable turnover. 

Although it boasted a relatively low 12.6 percent voluntary turnover rate, roughly 40 percent of exits could have been prevented. These workers cited “career progression, specialty change, work-life balance, and relationships with line managers.” Of course, none of these factors relate to pay or compensation.

To solve the problem, the human resources staff introduced career progression toolkits, coaching sessions, flexible work schedules, an easier transfer process between departments, and stay discussions. Managers also spoke to exiting employees to understand what could have prevented them from leaving.

As a result of the new policies, preventable turnover dropped from 40 percent to 34 percent. The NHS learned that listening to staff feedback and utilizing data to focus on hotspots were instrumental in solving the turnover problem. They also learned to view the new retention initiatives as “part of a continuous improvement journey.”

Modernizing the Feedback Process

The University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, which employs over 9,000 people, faced similar issues with staff turnover. It utilized staff focus groups, engagement workshops, and data from the 2015 NHS Staff Survey to identify areas for improvement.

UH Bristol found that frontline managers were failing to have “meaningful conversations” during appraisals. In response, the hospital system replaced their paper-based system with a digital process, which better facilitates two-way communication.

As a result of the new appraisal system, as well as reforms in the areas of employee recognition and workplace culture, UH Bristol saw an increase in “the percentage of staff able to contribute towards improvement at work.” Their employee engagement metric is ahead of the national average among NHS institutions.

Important takeaways revolved around the centrality of data-driven, digital two-way communication between managers and employees. Namely, managers ought to “engage with staff from the outset, listen to concerns, take on board feedback and make changes to plans” accordingly. 

Qlicket stands ready to aid your organization in modernizing communications with employees. Every employee that quits due to preventable factors represents thousands of dollars directly and indirectly removed from your bottom line. Learn more about our data-driven, easy-to-use solution.

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