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8 Hot Topics from the Employee Engagement Awards Conference

22 Mar 2017 - Blog, Events

8 Hot Topics from the Employee Engagement Awards Conference


People Insight was the headline sponsor of the Employee Engagement Awards Conference earlier this month. Chaired by our own MD, Tom Debenham, the conference was unique in that the winners and finalists shared the specific people practices that have achieved recognition.

Some fantastic case studies were shared from the likes of Lloyd’s Banking Group and Virgin Trains, and Richard McDonough from our account team shares the key topics that gained the most discussion on the day.


1. Five generations are working together for the first time

The ability to understand, motivate, communicate with and retain five different generations, with various priorities and preferences is essential for today’s people managers. Baby boomers and traditionalists can’t or don’t want to retire, Generation Z, millennials and generation X all think differently of each other. Paying attention to the different generational needs in employee surveys, and encouraging collaboration or reverse mentoring are some of the key techniques. See more.

PPL, in their case study,  showed how targeting benefits to different demographic groups improves satisfaction. (See their presentation here – slides 35-52.)


2. A strong connection between the employee and what the company does is critical


Purposeful organisations outperform their competitors. We’ve heard this from pioneering leaders like Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg. However, it goes further than just writing a purpose, mission and vision, to actually focussing employees in a meaningfully resonant way on a goal beyond profit.

Read the research here.


3. More organisations are linking engagement and organisational performance metrics



HR functions are becoming keener to show the employee engagement ROI and provide metrics to the board. Analysing the data from within the employee survey, for example, can give new insights into, e.g., specifically which engagement initiatives drives your people’s intention to stay or leave. Find out how People Insight do this.



4. Line managers make or break action planning and intervention

Google’s Project Oxygen has shown the power of effective line management on engagement and effective team performance. Fundamentally, when staff to have a positive experience of being line managed, they are more likely to thrive, but traditionally organisations have not developed individuals to be, or rewarded them for ‘good line management’.

 5. Engagement champions have a significant positive impact

First Bus shared their example of what difference champions can make to your employee engagement surveys – crucially if you pick the ‘mavens’ that are socially influential and well networked in the organisation. At Wales & West Utilities, champions led some of the survey initiatives, proving they don’t always need to come from the top of the organisation. (See their presentations here – slides 166-178 and 80-94.)


6. Senior Exec team members taking the time to go and sit with employees and really listen to their feedback is effective


People want to be noticed. They want to be valued. Jane Smith from Heathrow Airport, talked about how senior managers lead the new vision and values process, managing to listen to and engage with 1,015 employees along the way. (See their presentations here – slides 55-77.)


At People Insight, we see engagement levels in organisations where the CEO lunches in the canteen, walks the halls and drops in on front line employees to listen to their views. The difference in engagement in these organisations, compared to those where leaders are more remote (in the broad sense of the word,) is remarkable. It’s an uncomplicated way to show employees they are valued and listened to. See the Camelot case study for more ideas.



7. Explaining employee engagement to employees in a language they understand is important

Wales & West Utilities have involved their people in the business priorities & values with an impressive internal engagement & communications programme. (See their inspiring presentation here – slides 80-94 )

Involving employees from the start, (“consultation and collaboration were at the heart of what we did,”) they created an internal brand to give the communications personality and make the message appealing and memorable for everyone.

What’s most impressive about their approach, is how they really understand their internal audience. They created internal ‘personas’, or internal market segments to test their the engagement programme and language against prior to launch. For example, they explained engagement in terms of neuroscience to engineers which really resonated with them.



8. If people are happy but not performing, this is not employee engagement.

A valid final point from the conference. Today there are a plethora of perks – bean bags, bikes, free food and slides in the office, which are great. But, offering any gimmick that isn’t a) what your employees actually want or b) backed up by any internal evidence that it will actually make a difference to performance, is a generous, but pointless exercise.


The UK Employee Engagement Awards 2017 are open for entries on May 31st

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