Maximise Improvement by Empowering Staff

Picture of Kerrie Preston

Published on 22 July 2019 at 14:54

by Kerrie Preston

Maximise Quality Improvement Work by Empowering Staff

Healthcare organisations are defined by their people, so valuing employees should be at the top of the list, engaged staff encourages better performance which will lead to better outcomes. 


It comes as no surprise that the more disengaged, overworked and disempowered a workforce becomes it will eventually reflect in their day-to-day activities with organisations experiencing an upward trend in sick days, high staff turnover and lack of engagement. It is clear that an unhappy workforce effects patient experience and worse still patient mortality. 

David Astley OBE
, a former NHS Trust CEO who has recently run public hospitals in Qatar succinctly summed it up, “Happy staff make for happy patients”.


More explicitly still, MacLeod and Clarke (2009) identify the core element of engagement as the relationship; “it is when the business values the employee and the employee values the business.”


The value of employee engagement and empowerment can result in:

  • Higher staff satisfaction
  • Lower turnover
  • Improved quality of care for patients - better patient experience
  • Higher quality of care overall
  • Access to resources that allow independence
  • Better patient experience
  • Fewer medical errors
  • Lower infection and mortality rates
  • Stronger financial management
  • Higher staff morale, motivation and satisfaction
  • Less absenteeism, stress and incidences of burnout
  • Increased staff retention
  • Improved staff experience and productivity 

Barriers to Staff Empowerment:
  • Lack of senior leader support
  • Minimal resources available to staff
  • Poor teamwork and support
  • Stagnation and loss of momentum for change
  • Staff turnover 

empowering staff - 01


Drivers for empowerment and engagement in Quality Improvement:

1. Tools - Giving people access to the tools they need to complete their improvement work.


2. Structure - Offering a structured process and a set of priorities to follow.


3.  Sharing - The ability to share the great work and allow others to learn from their successes.


4. Central hub to record and access improvement work - Showcase successes and ensure the whole organisation can praise great work and use the method.


5.  Objectives - Ensure all employees are on the same page. People like certainty so having a centralized area where people can refer to the current company goals / high-level objectives, makes it easier to see how their actions can positively contribute.


6. Free reign to participate in QI projects that they are passionate about.


7. Allowing staff to grow, feel like they are advancing and learning new things.


8. Recognition - Rewarding / recognising /appreciation for the great work staff are doing and congratulate them on their achievements.


9. Trust - Put trust in your staff to carry out their own work, giving people ownership to own their QI projects and push to make a difference to the patients. Trust employees to commit to their own QI concerns, and record at their own pace.


10. Communicate - Encouraging communication across all levels within an organization or across multiple organizations keeping people motivated and in touch. Losing touch can equate to loss of interest and then QI progression starts to fail.


11. Joy in work - Joy is imperative to your team’s desire to challenge themselves to exceed their goals – and to their ability to develop collaborative relationships that drive the best results for your organization.


12. Hierarchical structures - Reduce the layers to boost speed, efficiency and performance. Organisations need team structure not necessarily Hierarchical structures. 


One model for a highly engaged organisation


PyramidModel - 01


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Source: Improving NHS Care by Engaging Staff and Devolving Decision-Making. Report of the Review of Staff Engagement and Empowerment in the NHS, Kings Fund.


What role can Life QI play in ensuring staff are engaged and feel empowered to make a difference in their organisation:


"People will be empowered, and their experience of health and care will be transformed, by the ability to access, manage and contribute to digital tools, information and services" NHS 10-year Plan, 2018





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