Employee engagement, sickness absence and agency spend in NHS trusts 

Dawson, J. & West,  M. | NHS England | March 2018 | Employee engagement, sickness absence and agency spend in NHS trusts 

The Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) team at NHS England commissioned a report to examine the ‘real world’ relationship between staff engagement, sickness absence and reliance upon temporary staffing in NHS trusts.


The team had the hypothesis that where: employee engagement is lower, there will be a higher level of sickness absence among staff, and this will necessitate a higher level of spend on agency (and bank) staff.  They analysed data from three sources: NHS Staff Survey (employee engagement), NHS Digital (sickness absence), and NHS Improvement (agency and bank staff spend).

The report has now been published and finds clear associations between employee engagement and sickness absence; as well as between employee engagement and agency staff spend (whether or not spend on bank staff was included within this).

It concludes there is clear evidence that trusts with higher engagement levels have lower levels of sickness absence and have lower spend on agency and bank staff.

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England said: “that staff engagement is not only good for employees’ health but reduces trusts’ cost and reliance on agency staffing. So doing the ‘right thing’ also helps trusts with their budget pressures. As such, this report offers important practical lessons for the whole NHS.”

The full report can be downloaded from NHS England


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