Published: 21 December 2020
In order to learn from staff experiences of COVID-19, the HSE, in partnership with Core Research began a Two-Stage Research Project in July 2020.
This stage involved an online Pulse Survey which focused on staff experience during the period from March to June and aimed to assess the practises and processes that the HSE should retain as a result of COVID-19, and how services and the ways of working should evolve over the months ahead. Participants were asked questions relating to
- Information sharing, Involvement and contribution;
- Support and direction;
- Areas for future focus.
A total of 7,057 responses were received from staff in a variety of different roles across the HSE.
Results of the Pulse Survey are now available and can be accessed on www.hse.ie/staffengagement. The main findings are as follows:
Satisfaction with communication and information sharing but room for improvement
Overall staff were positive about the amount of information they received during COVID-19 with the majority of staff reporting they received sufficient information. However, there were some staff groups that indicated they received too little or too much information. While the sharing of information was appreciated, in order to avoid confusion and frustration, staff feel there is a need for more and better guidance and direction especially in relation to redeployment and where staff are taking on additional roles and responsibilities. Within the workplace, the majority of staff were satisfied with communication from colleagues and their manager.
Culture shifts during COVID-19
Staff had mixed experiences of changes in workplace culture during COVID-19. Overall staff pointed to the fact that they experienced more teamwork and comradery at work, with strong evidence of staff supporting each other and patients through the crisis. Staff also reported that they were satisfied with the remote working arrangements and the opportunities for better work-life balance with some suggesting they felt more connected to their colleagues while working remotely. In order to ensure a positive work culture going forward, it is essential to continue to engage with staff that are both onsite and working from home while employing ICT and further staff supports. It is important to note that culture can have different meanings for different staff, therefore, this is something that will be explored further during the Focus Groups.
Positive views of HSE’s management of COVID-19 and change in opinion
In general, staff were satisfied with the HSE’s handling of COVID-19 to date and are confident in the Health Services ability to manage the pandemic into the future, mirroring the general public perceptions in a separate recent survey. Over half of staff reported that they felt supported, safe and in control in the workplace. However, staff who had face to face interactions with patients/members of the public and those who were redeployed had lower levels of feeling supported, feeling safe and in control versus those who had no face to face contact and those working from home.
Staff ‘Stepped-up’ to help fight against COVID-19
Across all sectors and categories, staff stepped up in their role and took on additional responsibilities. The majority of staff reported being satisfied with the contributions they made in the workplace during COVID-19, however, some suggested they did not have the opportunity to contribute as much as they wanted to. Going forward staff have indicated a clear need for more feedback, greater recognition of their contributions and more involvement in planning and decision-making utilising staff experience and knowledge. There is a desire among staff to learn from this COVID-19 experience so that the Health Service can better plan and organise for the future.
The second stage of the research took place from 15 to 23 September 2020 in the form of 9 virtual Focus Groups representative of the 6 staff categories across geographical and healthcare settings. The purpose of the Focus Groups was to delve deeper into the information already captured in the Pulse Survey and to explore what might have changed from the period of June to September.
The findings of this research offer an important opportunity for us to learn from staff feedback and inform recovery and action planning into the future.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all staff who took the time out of their busy schedules to participate in both the Pulse Survey and Focus Groups in order to share their experiences.