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Increasing Employee Engagement (and increase productivity as a result)

Hints and tips from a recent conference

Optimising my investment by sharing my learning with you.

(Please note that this article is based on my notes taken on the day. They are paraphrases of what I heard and captured at the time.)

On 22nd March I attended the Engage for Success annual conference: People at the Heart of Business. I came away inspired to hear others talking about many of the techniques that I have been introducing to clients and I also learned even more. Or as Sir Eric Peacock, serial entrepreneur and Chairman of Buckley’s Jewellery encouraged us to do with our learning:

“Steal with pride, adapt with glee, pragmatically implement.”

So here I am writing this article for you.

Sir Eric also inspired me with the following:

· Included in his approach to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), his business supports charities. Employees seek employers with similar values.

· When confirming you as a new employee, you receive a DHL delivery to your home address. Inside is a bottle of champagne and 2 glasses. The message encourages you to celebrate your journey and future success. Buried in the package is a small booklet with key information about the business. A great way to welcome new staff with the added benefit of reducing the “no show rate.”

· When a new member of staff joins his business, managers explore their work and personal interests to understand how their whole development can be supported.

· Each week they invest an hour at Breakfast University. Everyone attends and topics are focussed on development of the whole person.

· Every manager is trained to be a super coach to help people be the best they can be. Everyone is trained to be better at giving and receiving feedback. “Tell the truth fast” is key to individual and collective success.

· They use a traffic light rating throughout the business. Red in their RAG rating means a conversation about how you will exit the business.

· When introducing strategy and to encourage ownership, video staff and share their responses to the following questions: What can we do more of? What should we give up doing? What will you change as a result?

· Love Team – a team who focus on welcoming visitors, celebrate birthdays etc. They bake cakes, cookies etc.

· Signs on walls are used to celebrate award winners and why they have been awarded.

· Everyone is asked to complete 7 post cards, answering the following: 2 = what I will do differently (faster) in my role? 4 = what our team need to do differently? 1 = if I had a magic wand what our team should do differently. This achieved +2% productivity.

· Use of story telling to share and celebrate.

· He also shared two examples from Ritz Carlton:

­ They have established very clear service standards and values. On their daily call Managers and Leaders share examples of their values in action. This keeps their values real, at the core of everything they do and encourages them to look for and celebrate what their staff do best:

· What ever you do, Eric advises, make it relevant to your business culture.

Anna Malmhake, Chairman of the Absolut Company:

Anna shared her passion about the importance of brand. How it links with your business culture and is threaded through your employee experience. One of their products is Absolut Vodka. She shared some of the ethos that exists within their business:

· The world has to progress. For people to progress they have to have freedom.

· We have human beings, not human resources.

· Pilot your own career, drive it yourself.

· A brand is a promise. It provides the compass and culture. Culture eats strategy and creates the ambience.

· Their factory is at the heart of everything they do.

Francis Goss, Chief Commercial Officer, AHC. With 6 out of 10 employees affected by financial stresses, he shared his hints and tips about Employee Engagement and Financial Wellbeing:

· Personalise your messages – use pictures and images that staff can engage with. For example a pension calculator that encourages you to put in a picture of yourself today and creates one of you at retirement age.

· Include a video in your communication, 80% of people will watch a video for 1 minute

· Their financial wellbeing is likely to include so many others in their life. Include family in your communications.

· Include Financial Wellbeing in your wellbeing strategy.

Chieu Cao, CMO and Co-Founder, Perk Box. Chieu shared his insights focussing on how Millennials want a sense of purpose beyond money:

· Millennials are seeking greater transparency and collaboration.

· They are seeking to understand the bigger problem that you are trying to solve. To join your business they need to understand why you are doing what you do, answering the question: why you exist?

· You need to tie them in, connecting emotionally. What you do needs to be meaningful for them.

· You need to help them grow as an individual. You need to help them fit in and thrive in your business.

· Transformational leadership is needed; their aim is to create change.

· Retention includes offering perks based on what they can do outside of business.

· They also enjoy initiatives that they develop ie attending shows, planking, celebrations, dance…..

· They also appreciate the opportunity to spend time with customers, bringing back and implementing something that will help them in their business.

Panel discussion: Tony Danker, CEO Productivity Leadership Group; Neil Carberry, CMD of People and Infrastructure, CBI and Dame Carol Black, Principal Newham College, Cambridge.

We work harder than most of our G7 partners and we are less productive too. Transformation is needed:

· Employees are not the problem. Employees have the solutions to the problem.

· Employees come to work to be accepted for being themselves. If not treated well, humans respond in anger to the environment they are in.

· Personal productivity is emerging ie how people manage their fitness. Values evident in the work place are important. The environment has to create a positive sense that this is a place that works.

· Your employee experience is mirrored in your customer experience.

· The next few years are going to be tougher, how can your staff become part of the transformation needed?

· Great managers and leaders are needed. Those who start from the principle that everyone comes to work to do a good days work. Those who encourage innovation and improve employee engagement through the correct blend of trust, flexibility and control.

· Over the next 6 months you need to be scrutinising how to improve your competitiveness. People are a critical part of productivity and performance. The CBI highlight that we spend too much time on data and spreadsheets. Performance can no longer be driven by metrics alone.

· HR need to support and enable transformation.

Paula Vennels, Chief Executive, Post Office. Inspiring people through transformation:

· Paula started by sharing three stories, personalising and bringing the scope and impact of the transformation to life.

· A turnaround of culture and operating profit was needed. Values were core to how the transformation took place. They involved diverse talent, to contribute to diverse thinking, creating controversy to disrupt existing conscious and unconscious patterns.

· By focusing on their customers, the following principles were applied:

o Treat everyone with dignity and respect,

o Communicate fully – open, honest common sense,

o Never underestimate the impact the changes may have.

· “Face into the difficulty” was the expression she often used to describe how she met with those impacted to understand how their lives and businesses were impacted. “Grant them with dignity and respect.” “Insight through the eyes of those involved.”

· To improve Executive cohesion, they invested in how they worked together.

· She recognised the role that those who left the business, contributed to the transformation.

(Having lead transformational change and introduced Change Management practices in my early career across Royal Mail, I am delighted to witness many of these techniques exist inherently within their Chief Exec)

Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive, RSA and author of The Taylor Review of Modern Work Practices:

· Bad work is bad for the employer, the employee and society.

· Irrespective of the work, all roles should offer respect, dignity and opportunities to progress.

· The intention is to introduce a national employability framework which he urges everyone to adopt.

Katie McSweeney, Mumsnet, the UKs most popular parenting website:

· A hard working mum/parent will make everything work. They are more likely to go the extra mile and increase productivity as a result.

· “Respect my daily life juggling act and own wellbeing”.

· 86% of their users agree flexibility is more important than other employee benefits. Attract talent you may have missed.

· Employers need to create the environment where parents don’t have to deny their children. Empower managers to act on requests.

· Empower employees to develop solutions to achieve flexibility. For example, encourage families in your business to agree how they will collectively cover working hours.

Caroline Anderson, Director of HR & OD, HM Land Registry. In a context of no recruitment since 2017 and a line manager ratio of 1:43. Productivity did not drop due to staff connection with what the business stood for!!

Caroline shared how they transformed the business with the aim of putting the human back into the centre of the business:

· Managers are squeezed from above and below, if they aren’t engaged how can you expect your staff to be? She used the metaphor of the oxygen mask. Managers need the mask first to be able to help their staff.

· A quarterly pulse survey was introduced.

· They linked wellbeing at work with effectiveness at work.

· Introduced a creative committee with a cause.

· The CEO writes a weekly blog that shares both work and life outside of work.

· Based on an understanding that all comments must be aligned to business values, staff are encouraged to share their own stories on blogs. One couple shared their mental health challenges following the suicide of their son. The interest and support from their colleagues was significant.

· Buy in from the CEO is crucial to achieve significant cultural change.

I am delighted to share so much from this conference. I did this by consciously choosing not to tweet these great ideas at the time. Instead I remained actively engaged!!

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