Debate: It's time to get engaged

By Lancashire Business View

22 Aug 2017

In association with

We took a panel of experts to the Tree House at Ribby Hall Village as guests of the North West Employee Engagement Group (NWEEG) to discuss the importance of engaging staff and its impact on the bottom line.

PRESENT: Richard Slater ~ Lancashire Business View (chair) • Susan Houseman ~ Ribby Hall Village • Graham Campbell ~ Moose Media Management • Jo Carlin ~ Daniel Thwaites • Laura Hartley ~ LHR • Andrew Henderson ~ Scancapture • Robin Hills ~ Ei4Change • Noel Jolly ~ Clever Chameleon • Oliver McCann ~ Napthens Solicitors • Steve Smith ~ Scancapture and NWEEG • Simon Stead ~ Zumtobel Group (acdc).

How do you define employee engagement?

Steve Smith: Engagement is what we do and the way we do it and that’s it.

It’s a very simple process. It’s been proven that if you look after your staff and engage with them better, your customers will be looked after better, which obviously has a bearing on your profitability, your productivity, retention of staff and all the issues that surround people.

Data tells us if you can increase engagement by 2.5 per cent over a year, which isn’t easy, on average that puts four per cent on your bottom line. We’ve found the best clients we work with do four things really well.

The first is a strong narrative, the story of the business that people believe in and understand. The second is engaging managers, so they can coach, inspire, support, discipline and look after their team. The third one is the employee voice, letting your people tell you what is going on without fear of reprisal for speaking up and telling the truth.

The fourth is the organisation’s integrity, the values. If you’ve got values and people don’t believe them and in some cases don’t even know what they are, how are you going to get them to buy into it?

Jo Carlin: We’re really early in our employee engagement journey. Over the past two years we’ve seen what I call ‘stickiness’ – fewer people leaving us.

People are saying that they are being heard and that is really important. And we’re changing things on the basis of what they are saying to us.

We’re creating the link. SH: You have to take a genuine interest in your people. We thought we did employee engagement and then realised that, actually, we were making decisions from the top down.

So we decided we would get everyone involved, but it is not as easy as it sounds. We did have values, we did believe we listened to everyone, but the feedback we were getting when we did our first survey told us differently.

So we had to go back to the drawing board. It is about being genuine, about caring for people and actually listening to what they’re saying to you. Graham Campbell: It’s demonstrating to your employees that they are heard. It is easy to say, "we’re listening" but if there’s no communication and they don’t feel that way...

Read the debate in full in Lancashire Business View #75

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