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Unlocking Performance through Employee Engagement Conference highlights

Three months ago at the Unlocking Performance through Employee Engagement Conference on 25th June at University of the West of England (UWE) Bristol the presence of 150 delegates was ample proof employee engagement still matters. They filled notepads, participated in workshops, heard from some speakers of some of the best companies to work for and questioned expert panellists. The rain subsided for the BBQ lunch and ‘Inspire Me’ got everyone singing and dancing (see video). And rightly so, because if the event proved one thing it’s that investing in employee engagement gives those who do much to celebrate.

As one of the principle organisers here finally is my note of the main speaker takeaways which I hope you find useful (summer, study and the need to support an ailing parent the reason for my delay).

Emergent theme: treat people like you’d want to be treated and the results will take care of themselves.

Nita Clarke, Co-founder of Engage for Success

In ten years employee engagement has climbed up the agenda but now finds itself fighting for airtime, as businesses struggle with the pressures of our VUCA world and Brexit. Yet the same old issue remains: we’re trying to manage people in the 21st century the way we managed them in the 20th, and during an era when people expect greater fairness, trust, purpose, autonomy and meaning from work. The result? Employees feeling squeezed, a contributing factor the often dysfunctional relationship between manager and employee – the single biggest cause of dissatisfaction at work according to Dame Carol Black.

Yet it doesn’t have to be this way if organisations remember it’s their people who offer the best solutions to the challenges they face. Honour the four enablers and treat employees like human beings and success is more than likely to come.

Michael Chaney, Supply Chain Manager of Willmott Dixon

The company has achieved its no 1 ranking as best company to work for in the South West and in Wales (and the only construction company in the top 100) thanks to the total people focus of its CEO and COO and devotion to the ethos that “if you’re not serving customers your job is to be serving someone who is” (Jan Carlzon).

Employee engagement is embedded in the company culture from top to bottom and applied to their supply chain too, to which a construction company is so reliant. It’s reinforced by a clear vision and strategy and vigilance towards great communication and consistency. Mutual understanding between managers and reports is encouraged to mitigate micro management and employees are allowed to work out how they interpret the company’s values. Heeding well the enablers of employee a voice and integrity staff feedback is listened to and acted on resulting in a remarkable 94 per cent response rate to the annual staff survey.

Catherine Allen, Ella’s Kitchen

A fast growing entrepreneurial SME with 80 employees Ella’s attribute their success and ‘best company to work for’ listing to nurturing and involving their people. Everyone is involved in developing and implementing the strategy and they’re supported to find ways to connect to the company’s mission whatever role they’re in. Values and behaviours are creatively brought to life in ‘Buddy’, the company’s child mascot. The company prioritises well being and has invested heavily in developing engaging managers who look after their teams and try to provide employees with opportunities to develop and work more autonomously.

Andrew Sandiford, Bishop Fleming

Bishop Fleming eschews a vision and mission in favour of one clear ambition: to be the most rewarding accountancy firm to work for in the UK. As one of the UKs fastest growing firms of accountants and four times ranked a ‘best company to work for’, they appear to be achieving this. Their approach has been simple: work out what they believe in – their ‘why’ (as Simon Sinek famously recommends) then get outside help in to articulate this. In terms of implementation they’ve striven to stay true to what they’re about, regularly check they’re walking their talk and ensure clear line of sight from top to bottom. Simplifying ways of working, prioritising staff well being, providing opportunities to give back and to feedback, and treating people like grown-ups are some of the key reasons for their success according to Andrew.

NB. Delegate feedback to the event was overwhelmingly positive with it scoring an average of 4.2 out of 5 in response to the question ‘overall experience of the event’, a great achievement considering it was a one-off collaboration between Engage for Success, UWE, CITB and the ILM.

Interested in employee engagement and how to raise it? There are vast resources in digital and more usefully human form and further smaller events being planned by EFS and CIPD locally. At EFS we’re also always keen to hear from people willing to volunteer to help us take the discussion to a wider audience. Please contact me for more information and to discuss other ways I can help you or your organisation.

Mark Wilkinson - ‘Walkoach’ and Engage for Success Volunteer Ambassador.

#employeeengagment #NitaClarke #EngageforSuccess #InspireMe #EllasKitchen #BishopFleming #Walkoach

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