The Voucher Shop, a specialist provider of staff rewards, benefits and promotions, has conducted its second survey looking at the level of staff motivation in the NHS. The first survey was conducted in 2013. Today’s findings reveal continued failures in workforce recognition and deepening strain and dissatisfaction among NHS staff. It is clear that the NHS risks a mass exit of highly skilled staff if this issue is not addressed.

The Voucher Shop NHS Employee Survey was completed by a total of 3,204 NHS employees across the UK. Respondents were based in over 250 NHS Trusts and included employees at all levels within the NHS from cleaning and administrative staff to midwives, nurses and doctors.

The 2015 NHS Employee survey revealed:

  • NHS staff continue to feel the pressure of living costs: 87.5 percent of staff said that they were not being given assistance with the rising cost of living.  This is an increase of 4.1 percent since 2013.
  • NHS staff feel undervalued: Seven out of ten staff were feeling “unappreciated” or given “not enough praise” for their work. This figure remains unchanged from 2013.
  • Over half of today’s NHS workforce are ready to exit their job:  Nearly a third of staff (29.8%) are actively looking to change jobs within the year and 28.9 percent of NHS staff are considering a new post. This will create additional pressure to fill vacant posts and to train new intakes. Skills shortages are evident today as the NHS recruits from a global talent pool – for example, overseas recruitment of nurses, has more than quadrupled in a year.*
  • Communication about employee benefits is getting worse:  52.2 percent of staff described communication from their bosses about additional benefits as “very poor” or “poor” (compared to 44% in 2013), with only 2 percent saying it was excellent.
  • Long service milestones are being overlooked: 23 percent of NHS staff said that long service milestones were not celebrated, 26 percent said that service milestones were too infrequent and a further 15 percent didn’t even know if long service was celebrated in their Trust.

Kuljit Kaur, Head of Business Development at The Voucher Shop, comments, “No one underestimates the extreme challenges that our NHS faces. However, in an age where austerity still governs, inexpensive recognition schemes and cost neutral benefits can be a quick and alternative way of motivating staff in the absence of pay rises. In fact, they could be the catalyst to create a significant shift in staff motivation and engagement within the workplace.”

According to The Voucher Shop there are some simple measures that can be put in place to help increase staff engagement and to help staff feel more valued in their roles:

  1. Engagement strategy. If you don’t have one, get one! Engaged employees are twenty times more likely to display job satisfaction, loyalty and productivity.
  2. Implement a reward programme. If pay increases are not possible, then consider non-cash incentives.  Recognition of good work has been proven to be effective at motivating staff against measurable criteria. Cash incentives get lost among everyday bills, whereas non-cash rewards retain their presentation value.
  3. Determine the behaviours you would like to see in your ideal employee and recognise them. By creating a culture of recognition from both managers and peers you’ll motivate employees to display desired behaviours throughout the year, which will impact on organisational performance.
  4. Review your employee benefits. When salary freezes are commonplace it is essential to offer staff ways to make genuine savings on their everyday spending and demonstrate that your organisation is helping them to cope with the ever-increasing cost of living.
  5. Make reward and recognition obtainable by all, not just your top performers. Hospitals and Trusts can achieve greater gains by ensuring that their reward programmes set targets based on performance improvement and can be achieved by any member of staff, not just the top 10 percent who are probably already giving everything they have.
  6. Empower managers and give them greater autonomy. Give managers the tools they need to create development programmes that evolve throughout the year. Don’t wait for the annual appraisal, use recognition scheme data to give an indication of how well colleagues regard an individual and act on this information accordingly.
  7. Focus on measurement. Decide how you will determine if all these initiatives have made a genuine impact on staff motivation, retention, and improvement in patient care.

*NHS recruitment shortages





Tom Phelan is an assistant editor at HRreview. Prior to this position, Tom was a staff writer at ITProPortal, where he travelled the globe in pursuit of the latest tech developments. He also writes for a variety of music blogs.