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Healthcare Community Life

Getting Engaged to the NHS

Employee engagement is not unique to the NHS and is highly important in every workplace. A recently published Guardian article discusses a survey that suggests that NHS staff are seeking to be engaged while at work and are even avoiding working in places that have a poor track record in engagement. The survey questioned 1,600 nurses and highlights the importance of employee satisfaction to Healthcare organisations, as those with good reputations ‘will attract and retain the best staff’.

Another article on the Guardian is headlined 'Empowered and engaged NHS staff will provide better care’, but the positive affects go beyond medical staff. While working with patients may not fall under your remit, the NHS is made up of more than those who do give care. Whether you’re concerned with IT, legal, cleaning or any other area, it’s important to feel attached to your work. The NHS also clearly values engagement, so much so that it puts together toolkit documents and awards to encourage and reward it.

While we generally believe that the working environment at the NHS is about as engaging as it gets, due to the challenging environment and noble cause, we also feel that true job satisfaction has to be driven from within. Nobody can give you passion, but you can take steps towards engaging yourself. To this end, we’ve put together some advice to help you get the most out of your day-to-day within the National Health Service.

At this point you may well be asking yourself, am I engaged? To roughly self-diagnose (although remember, looking up symptoms on the internet is not recommended) ask yourself a different set of questions. Are you absorbed and enthusiastic about your work? Would you do just about anything to better your place of work and help fellow employees? If you can honestly say yes, you’re an engaged employee. Chances are that you have a passion for your work and feel so in touch with your company that you have a personal stake in driving progress and innovation. You enjoygoing to work and love what you do.

In an ideal world, everybody would feel this way. Sadly, employees are often inadvertently unengaged or even actively detached from their work. Symptoms vary from being vacant, seemingly idling through the day as if daydreaming with no pride or gusto, to rooted unhappiness and damaging attitudes. Far from the energy and commitment of an engaged person, the efforts of those afflicted with ‘unengaged-itis’ are normally half-hearted. If you often groan yourself out of bed on a Monday or feel disconnected at work, it is likely that you are not engaged.

It speaks volumes for the mentality of NHS staff that they value the reputation of a Trust and opportunities for progression as main concerns when looking for a new position. Fortunately, when you boil it down there really is no secret to remedying yourself and becoming engaged in your work. While it helps if the environment you’re in is open, there are behaviours you can establish to encourage your own engagement:

·A little responsibility will go a long way towards connecting you to your workplace and feeding your desire for progress. Even slight empowerment, such as an added duty or a specific target, will help to align yourself to your work and allow growth. Along with some ownership comes a degree of accountability which, far from being a stick to beat you with should things go awry, will increase your participation and make you valuable. If you perform well and are rewarded appropriately, your morale, status and commitment will all likely increase.

·Gaining your own niche, an area of expertise that makes you an authority, can come about naturally, even from entry-level positions. For example, if you have a particular strength which falls somewhere outside the boundary of your contracted position, why not point this out, suggest a solution and make yourself an asset? The worst case scenario is a ‘thanks but no thanks’ response, but even that will put you on the radar as a keen member of staff worth keeping an eye on.

By shaping your involvement and contributing to your place of work, you will naturally be challenged, deserve recognition and build that all important belief that you are valued. Developing an understanding of how your efforts are linked to your company’s direction is important to feeling connected and part of something, rather than just a drone going about your tasks.

Work needn’t be a crawl. If you are not actively engaged, you need to determine why. There may be times when you feel unappreciated or bored, but the responsibility for your own engagement lies with you. You can’t be taught desire, but you can move towards making your daily work more valuable and ultimately enjoyable.

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