Happiness and Healthcare: Why UK’s healthcare workers need a morale boost

Rosie Ramirez

2 August 2018    |   

The UK’s healthcare market is one of the largest in the world, collectively being worth £167 billion ($221 billion). The National Health Service (NHS) alone employs 1.7 million people, making it the biggest employer in the UK, and the fifth biggest employer in the world. But healthcare is notable for another statistic: it is one of the most stressful industries in the UK.  Mental stress appears to be the overarching issue. The UK has high work-related stress in general, with 84% of workers suffering from poor mental health. But The Guardian found that NHS staff are more likely to feel stressed because of their job than any other public sector workers. Common stressors for healthcare workers include long hours, few breaks, heavy workload, unreasonable expectations, and bad press. One healthcare professional wrote, “People are regularly asked to work on days off or when on leave.”  Unsurprisingly, 4 out of 5 NHS workers have considered leaving their job. And mental stress is correlated with a dip in staffing levels. NHS Improvement reports that the NHS was short of 93,000 staff during 2017-18, including 37,000 nurses and 10,000 doctors. In NHS England alone, one in 11 posts are currently unfilled. The nursing and midwifery professions also have an ageing demographic, with more than half all nurses older than 45. This indicates that public healthcare is simply not attractive to younger people in the UK anymore. UK’s healthcare workers need a morale boost It’s clear that the UK’s healthcare workers need a morale boost. It’s a challenging time to be in the healthcare industry, especially with public scrutiny at an all-time high. Rumors of inadequate health care and delays in treatment hound the NHS, and, one can imagine, healthcare workers themselves. People are at the heart of every profession, and keeping them motivated improves the service they provide. Emphasizing how important healthcare is to society will remind staff why they entered the profession in the first place. Managers will do well to remember this, along with other key tips such as: Recognizing quality work Praise staff in public and share good client feedback with the team. If there’s time, have a simple get-together to celebrate a job well done. Having a standard form of recognition also helps, such as featuring an “Employee of the Month”. Providing training opportunities Having no clear growth trajectory is the exact opposite of a morale boost. Ask high performers to take on more responsibility and encourage those with potential to help streamline processes. You can also implement a mentor program to pay valuable experience forward. Rewarding staff who achieve targets Small benefits can go a long way. Whether its an additional day off or a gift card for a job well done, non-monetary benefits are likely to stick with employees. Supporting efforts outside of work In the end, employees are people too, with their own hobbies and projects. Once in a while, it would be a good idea to buy their art, see their shows, or simply compliment something they’re proud of. Automation is also a key stress alleviator More radical forms of change are also readily available. We already know that bad management impacts work-life balance. When managers fail to implement basic practices that help employees do their job well, everyone becomes less productive. Juggling limited human resources can lead managers to make decisions that inconvenience their staff. In a high-pressure environment, scheduling rotas and managing staff unavailability can prove to be too much to handle. Healthcare, as a front line service and a shift work industry, serves to benefit from technology, especially from cloud-based HR systems.  Automating rota management through cloud-based HR systems and apps creates a climate of efficiency and transparency that can lighten everyday workload in clinics and hospitals. It allows managers to optimize shifts and find substitutes with ease, cutting down the time and cost they spend on figuring it out. Records integrate well with payroll software, ensuring correct pay for hours worked, every time. Automation also improves communication, with SMS and e-mail updates for employees often included in the package. All this provides a morale boost and serves to increase confidence in leaders and develop trust among staff. Morale boost in healthcare is vital for the future The healthcare industry in the UK can be divided into the NHS and the smaller private segment that caters to secondary and tertiary care. The latter is especially helpful for the elderly, who now comprise 18% of the population. Over the next 25 years, the proportion aged 85 and over is projected to double. Further, the projected increase in population is from 65.6 million in mid-2016 to 69.2 million in mid-2026. Providing adequate healthcare for the growing population is going to become one of the greatest challenges of the next decade. Making the healthcare industry an attractive occupation once more, especially to younger people, is vital in continuing the provision of these essential services. This will not happen without a morale boost in the industry, whether through automation or more traditional methods. Read Further NHS staff most stressed public sector workers, survey finds by Sarah Johnson 30 creative ideas for boosting employee morale and retention by Robert Half Seven ways you can empower your employees and improve morale by Owen Gough

The UK’s healthcare market is one of the largest in the world, collectively being worth £167 billion ($221 billion). The National Health Service (NHS) alone employs 1.7 million people, making it the biggest employer in the UK, and the fifth biggest employer in the world. But healthcare is notable for another statistic: it is one of the most stressful industries in the UK. 

Mental stress appears to be the overarching issue. The UK has high work-related stress in general, with 84% of workers suffering from poor mental health. But The Guardian found that NHS staff are more likely to feel stressed because of their job than any other public sector workers. Common stressors for healthcare workers include long hours, few breaks, heavy workload, unreasonable expectations, and bad press. One healthcare professional wrote, “People are regularly asked to work on days off or when on leave.”  Unsurprisingly, 4 out of 5 NHS workers have considered leaving their job.

And mental stress is correlated with a dip in staffing levels. NHS Improvement reports that the NHS was short of 93,000 staff during 2017-18, including 37,000 nurses and 10,000 doctors. In NHS England alone, one in 11 posts are currently unfilled. The nursing and midwifery professions also have an ageing demographic, with more than half all nurses older than 45. This indicates that public healthcare is simply not attractive to younger people in the UK anymore.

UK’s healthcare workers need a morale boost

It’s clear that the UK’s healthcare workers need a morale boost. It’s a challenging time to be in the healthcare industry, especially with public scrutiny at an all-time high. Rumors of inadequate health care and delays in treatment hound the NHS, and, one can imagine, healthcare workers themselves. People are at the heart of every profession, and keeping them motivated improves the service they provide. Emphasizing how important healthcare is to society will remind staff why they entered the profession in the first place. Managers will do well to remember this, along with other key tips such as:

  • Recognizing quality work

    Praise staff in public and share good client feedback with the team. If there’s time, have a simple get-together to celebrate a job well done. Having a standard form of recognition also helps, such as featuring an “Employee of the Month”.

  • Providing training opportunities

    Having no clear growth trajectory is the exact opposite of a morale boost. Ask high performers to take on more responsibility and encourage those with potential to help streamline processes. You can also implement a mentor program to pay valuable experience forward.

  • Rewarding staff who achieve targets

    Small benefits can go a long way. Whether its an additional day off or a gift card for a job well done, non-monetary benefits are likely to stick with employees.

  • Supporting efforts outside of work

    In the end, employees are people too, with their own hobbies and projects. Once in a while, it would be a good idea to buy their art, see their shows, or simply compliment something they’re proud of.

Automation is also a key stress alleviator

More radical forms of change are also readily available. We already know that bad management impacts work-life balance. When managers fail to implement basic practices that help employees do their job well, everyone becomes less productive. Juggling limited human resources can lead managers to make decisions that inconvenience their staff. In a high-pressure environment, scheduling rotas and managing staff unavailability can prove to be too much to handle. Healthcare, as a front line service and a shift work industry, serves to benefit from technology, especially from cloud-based HR systems

Automating rota management through cloud-based HR systems and apps creates a climate of efficiency and transparency that can lighten everyday workload in clinics and hospitals. It allows managers to optimize shifts and find substitutes with ease, cutting down the time and cost they spend on figuring it out. Records integrate well with payroll software, ensuring correct pay for hours worked, every time. Automation also improves communication, with SMS and e-mail updates for employees often included in the package. All this provides a morale boost and serves to increase confidence in leaders and develop trust among staff.

Morale boost in healthcare is vital for the future

The healthcare industry in the UK can be divided into the NHS and the smaller private segment that caters to secondary and tertiary care. The latter is especially helpful for the elderly, who now comprise 18% of the population. Over the next 25 years, the proportion aged 85 and over is projected to double. Further, the projected increase in population is from 65.6 million in mid-2016 to 69.2 million in mid-2026.

Providing adequate healthcare for the growing population is going to become one of the greatest challenges of the next decade. Making the healthcare industry an attractive occupation once more, especially to younger people, is vital in continuing the provision of these essential services. This will not happen without a morale boost in the industry, whether through automation or more traditional methods.

Read Further

NHS staff most stressed public sector workers, survey finds by Sarah Johnson

30 creative ideas for boosting employee morale and retention by Robert Half

Seven ways you can empower your employees and improve morale by Owen Gough

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About the author

Rosie Ramirez

Our team's goal is to provide practical advice for business owners and managers across industries.

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In today’s rapidly-changing business world, the question is not whether or not you should get a payroll software solution for your business. Rather, it’s what type you should get. Before getting into too much detail, the first question you should ask is whether you should get a desktop-based or a cloud-based payroll software. And understanding […]

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