Answering the question: ‘why is it worth it?’

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It was a delight to Chair Engage’s recent Employee Engagement Summit in London – a stimulating and fascinating collection of presentations and case studies from across industry on this important area of business leadership – how to engage more effectively with your workforce, whilst also answering the question ‘why is it worth it?’. Without wanting to come across as too contrived in my observations of the day I did however draw some film theme analogies to some of the sessions.
When Nita Clarke of the IPA opened with ‘It’s about the people, stupid’ as her definition of Employee Engagement I was reminded of Dumb & Dumber and how we sometimes over-complicate life and the people challenges we face – sometimes the obvious and simple is right there in front of us – people are at the heart of our business and we need to look after them if we want sustainable value to be created for our organisations.
Francis Goss from Grass Roots discussed some interesting ideas around motivation and reminded the audience that money is still an important driver for many people – as in Jerry Macguire’s ‘…show me the money!’, albeit some creative packaging and positioning was now required to make the most of this. Nicola Millard from BT touched on 2001: A Space Odyssey in my mind, in that the space of the future will be quite different for our staff, with homeworking, technology, customer dynamics and business practices all significantly changing our workspace and how we engage and interact within it.
I loved Tim Morgan from Mint’s story of how their business reinvents itself with every new opportunity and idea, and he reminded me of needing to filter The Good, The Bad and The Ugly business ideas and not be afraid to reinvent your business as your market evolves. Tim’s principles for success certainly struck a chord with the audience. Probably for me the most engaging session was Nick Brice talking about his Field of Dreams and how Brighton & Hove Albion FC reinvented itself and the way it engaged with its fans and potential customers when moving to its new stadium. A remarkable and heartwarming story that had many important lessons for the audience to absorb – particularly around trust and authenticity in our actions as leaders.
These were actually the key themes of the day, in my view, trust and authenticity in leadership. The successful and transformed organisations were where the leadership understood the issues their organisations faced in terms of transparency, engagement and buy-in, and to lead on clear values, vision and principles. Clearly this is not new as a concept – in fact these ideas surface with the recurring regularity of Groundhog Day – but the changing circumstances in which business leaders operate – a socially connected and digital world, a highly transient workforce, rapidly shifting competitive dynamics and markets – does require authenticity along with innovative ideas for engagement of staff more than ever. And those at this event were treated to the Full Monty of stories and experiences of this, in abundance. It was a privilege to learn, share and Chair this event and I urge you to mark the 2016 Employee Engagement Summit in your calendar. And to do this within 24 hours!
Mike Havard is Director of Ember Services and a longstanding leader and innovator in customer management strategies and operations, working with major brands across the world.
Blog first published April 11th 2015, at Engage Customer.