Staff survey – action and attitudes to sustainability

The NHS is the country’s largest employer. It is keen to support staff to reduce waste and costs, improve environmental impacts and contribute to good health. 

Working with the Sustainable Heath and Care Campaign the SDU conducted a survey to:

  • Understand NHS staff attitudes to waste reduction, cutting carbon emissions, and delivering cost savings through supporting the environment.
  • To learn what sustainable actions and activities staff undertake at work and is that similarly reflected outside of work. Such as energy saving, recycling, waste reduction, healthy travel, volunteering and using technology.
  • To ascertain the best methods to engage, encourage and support staff to contribute sustainable actions and activities. 


NHS staff believe strongly in the need for, and value of, environmental sustainability. Some feel supported by their organisations but others feel they could be supported more. There is a perceived values gap; staff feel that they value sustainability more highly than their organisation does. There is potentially an opportunity to empower staff to act on their values in work, benefiting the NHS, patients and the environment. 

Key areas like recycling, energy and waste are widely actioned by staff in their roles. The most effective ways to engage were to:

  • Link actions to health and wellbeing benefits for staff and patients. 
  • Show how action can be specific to their role 
  • Show how they can save time and money.


In the resources box below, you can find a full infographic and briefing of results produced by the Sustainable Health and Care Campaign.

A full technical results annexe can be downloaded below.

Running your own staff engagement

This research provides a national baseline but organisations may want to survey their own staff to improve understanding about local action and attitudes. This will help design and deliver better engagement around sustainability – designed specifically for staff locally. 

In order to support your own staff engagement the SDU have made available the full study template from the survey, in addition we have produced a guidance document to help you plan your engagement work. 

Download the questionnaire and guidance below.