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After the festive celebrations, we are left with the hope and potential of a brand new year. And what better way to begin 2020 than to ask ourselves what is it that really matters this year?

If we all took a moment to consider this question within the workplace, if we could rank our top three priorities for our working lives this year, what might we learn?

As we kick off January 2020, opening up this conversation in your workplace could be the first step to transforming your organisation; ensuring your teams are happier, healthier and more empowered in their roles.

Talking openly together, in your teams and in your departments, to identify the things that contribute to joy in work, is an important step towards creating a safer, happier and more productive workforce.

There is business sense to thinking about joy in work. The clinical workforce is under pressure, and burnout is more prevalent than it ever has been. In its third annual NHS workforce trends report, the Health Foundation found that staff turnover is at a critical level; in community trusts, on average 1 in 5 staff left their role over the course of 2017/18. This is costing the NHS millions each year.

The message of burnout and job dissatisfaction is being repeated.

Now is the time to empower the workforce and restore joy in work.

By focusing on improving joy in work, we aim to help colleagues to find meaning and shared purpose in their work. Increasing joy in work leads to improved patient experience, outcomes and safety, whilst simultaneously reducing staff turnover.

“The NHS providers with high levels of staff engagement, as measured in the annual NHS Staff Survey, tend to have lower levels of patient mortality, make better use of resources and deliver stronger financial performance.” (West and Dawson, 2012)

So, step one is asking “what matters to you?”… what next?

Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) Framework for Improving Joy in Work suggests that once we have ascertained what matters most to our teams, the next step is to identify the processes and issues getting in the way of staff being happy and productive, or meeting staff needs.

Empowering the frontline

Fostering a culture of joy in the workplace is about ensuring that the working environment helps staff to feel safe, listened to and appreciated. It is about creating an atmosphere in which everyone believes their contribution matters and they make a difference.

We believe that the cornerstone to improving efficiency, working environments and, ultimately, patient safety is listening to the experiences of those on the frontline. Frontline staff are aware of the issues they have to work around each day. They are most likely to understand the inefficiencies in the system, and very often already have innovative solutions. They know where time could be saved, where processes could be streamlined, where technology could help and where it hinders.

Giving everyone a voice is key.

People make change

With all of the insights you have gathered; what matters to your staff, what makes a good day at work, where can we improve, you can utilise the skills within your teams to begin to make changes. Bringing multi-disciplinarily professionals together to drive change is an essential part of collaboration and teamwork.

Restoring joy in the workplace is not solely the job of leaders; everyone has a role. We must gather solutions from those at the sharp end of delivering care, those who understand the challenges faced every day. Brainstorm the solutions and refine them together as a team. Listen to a wide range of opinions. Ask everyone. Ask again.

If everyone, regardless of role or background, can get involved in improving their workplace, the more engaged your workforce will become.

Measure and evaluate

Finally, it is important to measure the impact of your improvements. Using improvement science will help you understand what is working well and will also underpin long term sustainability. As people begin to see changes being implemented and the impact they are having, engagement will increase, more voices will be heard, and everyone will benefit.

At ImproveWell, we believe that higher staff engagement leads to better patient outcomes. We are proud that our digital solution is helping hospitals and healthcare organisations to become happier, safer environments for staff and patients alike.

For more information about how ImproveWell can help you, get in touch at or contact our team.

Read the full Health Foundation article on NHS staffing trends, retention and attrition.

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