The requirement

The People Plan 2020/21 – action for all of us is committed to ensuring staff have a voice. This is an integral part of the People Promise: We each have a voice that counts. The People Plan sets out the need to launch a new quarterly survey to track employee engagement on a more regular basis.

The National Quarterly Pulse Survey was implemented initially via the People Pulse in April 2021. From July 20218*, all NHS provider organisations are required to implement and report the first set of results in August 2021.

*Organisations are expected to implement the National Quarterly Pulse Survey in July 2021.  Organisations which are unable to implement for quarter two 2021/22 can start data collection from the first month of quarter four (January 2022).  The National Staff Survey will take place in quarter three 2021/22.

The required questions comprise of the nine engagement theme questions from the annual NHS Staff Survey, these questions are focused on three dimensions of engagement: motivation, involvement, and advocacy.

  1. I often/always look forward to going to work (Motivation)
  2. I am often/always enthusiastic about my job (Motivation)
  3. Time often/always passes quickly when I am working (Motivation)
  4. There are frequent opportunities for me to show initiative in my role (Involvement)
  5. I am able to make suggestions to improve the work of my team/department (Involvement)
  6. I am able to make improvements happen in my area of work (Involvement)
  7. Care of patients/service users is my organisation’s top priority (Advocacy)
  8. I would recommend my organisation as a place to work (Advocacy)
  9. If a friend or relative needed treatment I would be happy with the standard of care provided by this organisation (Advocacy)

For the first year, NHS England and NHS Improvement has adopted a flexible approach to how organisations may collect data for the National Quarterly Pulse Survey. Trusts can choose from the following data collection methods:

  • The national People Pulse (no requirement for data to be submitted via Strategic Data Collection Service, this will be done centrally).
  • An existing internal survey (data to be submitted via Strategic Data Collection Service).
  • A current Staff FFT provider. Although Staff FFT will be replaced by the National Quarterly Pulse Survey, trusts could continue to use the same provider (data to be submitted via Strategic Data Collection Service).

To help provide any easy summary to the National Quarterly Pulse Survey requirement, please see the following diagram for implementation.

National Quarterly Pulse Survey diagram for implementation

No, both the National Quarterly Pulse Survey and annual NHS Staff Survey will run concurrently. The overall requirement is for organisations to run the annual NHS staff survey in Q3 and National Quarterly Pulse Survey in Q1 (April), Q2 (July) and Q4 (January).

The National Quarterly Pulse Survey requirement only applies to care providers, i.e. Trusts. If other NHS Organisations (e.g. CCGs, Primary Care) would like to be part of this voluntarily, we would encourage them to participate using the People Pulse and review results internally.

Yes, as with Staff FFT, the National Quarterly Pulse Survey is not restricted to those who have a contract of employment with the organisation.

Survey fatigue is often seen as risk of more regular surveys. Currently, trusts are required to participate in the annual NHS staff survey yearly and report on Staff FFT quarterly. As the Staff FFT is being repurposed so that organisations can utilise that method for data collection for the National Quarterly Pulse Survey, the number of mandatory surveys remains the same.

Staff engagement has been researched in detail over the last few decades and has been proven to have strong links with organisational performance. The national Staff Experience and Engagement team has also conducted some recent research where employee engagement components, in particular involvement, were shown to have positive correlations with lower patient mortality, lower sickness levels and lower patient complaints.

Depending on the method chosen for data collection of the National Quarterly Pulse Survey, trusts may be able to add specific questions. For example, if a trust commissions its own local survey provider then they could introduce local questions as part of this. However, these would not be submitted as part of the National Quarterly Pulse Survey data submission. For trusts using People Pulse, the regular set of questions (relating primarily to health and wellbeing) will also be included.

Formal guidance can be found on the National Quarterly Pulse Survey webpage. We will also issue further communication with the formal guidance in due course.