Three Very Different Organisations, Five Common Words. IdeasUK Employee Engagement Network Meeting.

Last week I had the great joy of attending an IdeasUK Employee Engagement network meeting in Cardiff, hosted by the Wales Audit Office. The three organisations presenting workshops were incredibly different yet, I picked up on five common themes: Longevity, Trust, Evidence, Belief and Passion.

Question: Are these the key elements of success for any employee engagement approach?

To set the scene, the organisations involved couldn’t be more different in relation to what they do, the numbers and type of people they employ and where they operate:

  • HSBC, financial services and banking (global);
  • Ministry of Defence (GEMS Scheme), defence (domestic and global); and
  • Ricoh Manufacturing UK (Telford), photocopier manufacturing (European wide).

The success of each of these organisations and what they have achieved in employee engagement through their staff ideas schemes was obvious to see through the day. What struck me were common phrases/words/ideas/approaches/beliefs and values that kept popping up, despite them being very different organisations. Here is my take on what I think linked these three very different organisations, and what seems to support successful employee engagement.

Longevity: Each one of these organisations has been pursuing a path of employee engagement for a long time. The MoD started Gems in the mid 1990s and it’s even longer for Ricoh (1986). I think this long-term view is critical in developing a culture where employee engagement is taken seriously and people live the values through their everyday behaviours. Things like the ‘Thank You’ culture in HSBC don’t happen overnight.

Trust: This is mentioned so often that it’s almost a cliché; however the difference between saying it and actually trusting people is huge. It was impressive to see how HSBC trust their staff to interact with an internal social media type platform to share ideas. In the highly regulated world of financial services it would be so easy just to say no, ‘manage the risk’ and shut everything down. I heard the phrase ‘why wouldn’t you trust your staff, they know the job they do better than anyone’ several times during the day.

Evidence: Every single organisation had rock solid evidence of the benefits their suggestion schemes had delivered. These ranged from a 14:1 return on investment through to hundreds of millions of pounds saved. My key learning point was the necessity of having solid evidence when someone questions the effectiveness of employee engagement and suggestion schemes. It’s surprising how many people ‘just don’t get it ‘(see the David MacLeod & Nita Clarke report) so you will need solid evidence.

Belief: You’ve got to believe, because if you don’t, how will you convince anyone else? Everyone I met totally believed in the power of employee engagement; nothing else to say.

Passion: This absolutely stands out for me as the defining characteristic of what makes great employee engagement. Passion is what I saw in all three organisations across the day but if you want one example of what passion inspires here goes…….

Walking out of one of the workshops with Ricoh an individual who works in the NHS turned around and said out loud, to everyone…… “I found that inspiring, I would like to come and work for Ricoh”. Not a bad impact after sitting there for an hour.

It was an incredibly useful session and I would like to say thanks very much to:

  • Stuart Laws – Ministry of Defence
  • Rob Bland & Chris Nicholls – Ricoh UK Products
  • Zufi Yousaf & Michael Davies – HSBC
  • Anthony Denatale – IdeasUK

I know that IdeasUK are planning to keep the momentum going by publishing a series of blogs about the day. This is part of the pledge I made during the day to help keep things alive through my own blog posts.

So, what’s the PONT?

  1. Longevity is a key feature of successful employee engagement which other organisations would benefit from thinking about.
  2. Evidence of success (and cash savings) is highly necessary if you want to convince the ‘just don’t get it’ crowd.
  3. Passion above all will inspire people to do great things.


Just to emphasise the point about longevity……

About WhatsthePONT

I'm from Old South Wales and I'm interested almost everything. Narrowing it down a bit: cooperatives, social enterprises, decent public services, complexity science, The Cynefin Framework, behavioural science and a sustainable future. In 2018/19 I completed a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship, looking at big cooperative enterprises and social businesses in NE Spain and the USA. You can find out more here:

3 Responses

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s