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Employee Engagement Can Save Lives

United Kingdom news outlets have been buzzing about the National Health Service (NHS), and justifiably so.  A recent report has shown that there were 1,200 unnecessary deaths at the Stafford Hospital between 2005 and 2008.  A full investigation was launched after the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, responsible for overseeing the hospital, failed to provide an adequate response to a large number of deaths.

The scathing report is summed up with one of the lines in the report stating there were, “failures at every level”.  This includes many aspects, including care and expertise.  As patient deaths rose to alarming levels, there were no employees that stood up to find the cause of the emergency.  In addition, there were not enough employees to handle the workload.  One report indicates there was bullying, making employees too afraid to speak up about declining care.  This was a toxic environment that led directly to unnecessary patient deaths.

The lack of alarm can be partially attributed to employee engagement.  The understaffed hospital left employees stretched thin, affecting their ability to provide adequate care.  The employees also may have been too tired to attempt to go through the channels to get patients the care they needed or more staff.  It’s unclear if the hospital purposely chose to understaff the hospital.  The bullying also prevented employees from feeling secure in doing what needed to be done to help save lives.  These issues directly led to patient deaths.  Those employees that were left to work long hours amid bullying were likely very discouraged with their profession, further damaging the hospital’s staffing pool.

However, employee engagement may not have been an issue at just one hospital.  It has been suggested that the entire NHS is plagued by poor culture that seeps into every hospital.  This entire scandal has been horrifying to the British.  People go to the hospital to get better, not worse.  The 1,782-page report investigating the NHS cost more than 13 million pounds, or 20 million dollars.  The actual damages are literally priceless, but it will undoubtedly cost much more to make things right than the cost of the report.  If there had been a better focus on employee support and growth, this awful tragedy may have been avoided.  Every business can suffer from a lack of interest, bullying, or negative culture without an emphasis being placed on employee engagement.

At NBRI, we recommend using employee engagement surveys to help understand what your employees are thinking and experiencing without the potential for interference from other employees, managers, and superiors.  Survey data helps you understand your business and how to move forward.  Then, we recommend that you resurvey periodically to gauge the effectiveness of your improvement initiatives. Contact us today to ensure that your employees are engaged.

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