INTERVIEW: Shobhan Gajjar Country Manager of emplo and former CEO of TotalJobs

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Why are you so passionate about Employee Engagement?

It can be summed up as happy people = happy customers = profit growth.  Increased productivity, higher customer satisfaction and lower staff turnover enable organisations to win in the marketplace and deliver higher than average profit. I believe in cultivating a strong culture where people are recognised for their contribution and are given development opportunities. This approach improves retention and also makes the company more attractive to new employees.

How can Employee Engagement Tech help enhance a business?

Technology is an enabler and there are many SaaS providers offering communication and collaboration tools.  Some include other functionality such as planning of events, surveys and questionnaires, individual development plans and 360 degree feedback.  Easy to use mobile apps allow you to connect even when away from the office and thanks to Cloud technology these tools are now affordable for SME’s

One example of the tangible business value delivered by your platform

emplo significantly reduces internal email traffic which in turn enhances communication and improves productivity. One of our customers, Smart MBC managed to decrease internal emails by 97% thanks to emplo. Through its newsfeed emplo keeps the entire organisation up to speed with company news and information that will help them perform better.  It allows people to communicate one on one or in groups, provide instant feedback, and organise documents and employee information all in one place. You can organise events and even conduct surveys via the in-built survey tool.  Engaged organisations deliver higher levels of productivity and profitability. A McKinsey study concluded that use of social technologies can improve productivity by up to 25%.

One example of how the platform improved the lives of employees

People want a sense of purpose and an opportunity to contribute to the organisation.  We all spend a long time at work so it’s important to have purpose and development opportunities.  Recognition is key, as it motivates people to do more than is expected.  All of this has a knock on effect to one’s personal life as the two are inextricably linked – if people are happy at home they are more likely to be happy at work.

What would people need to do to get buy in from you a CEO to invest in Employee Engagement

I think the question is can you afford not to invest in Employee Engagement?  There isn’t a great deal of cost involved and the benefits far outweigh the investment – start with a simple survey to gauge how employees are feeling about the workplace.  You will learn a lot from this exercise and it will start the dialogue that is required to harness all the knowledge and experience that exists in the organisation.

 

emplo is a digital workplace tool that builds employee engagement by integrating social collaboration, employee development and performance management into one online platform.

It connects employees into an empowered community that encourages internal communication, knowledge sharing and retention, while streamlining processes to enhance company profitability.

The Kind people at Emplo are offering a 3 month free trail of their service you can sign up here.

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INTERVIEW: Céline Schillinger – Head, Quality Innovation & Engagement – Sanofi Pasteur

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Why are you so passionate about Employee Engagement

I’ve worked in small and big organizations, in different countries. I’ve seen business models hit by technological disruptions, globalization… I’ve witnessed the evolution of social values, profound shifts impacting people everywhere. Yet, one thing doesn’t really change: the way organizations “manage” their workforce. By sticking to traditional, top-down, transactional models, we are wasting a lot of precious resources. These old management schemes are more and more ineffective – even detrimental to the business. I believe we can do much better. There are untapped resources of commitment, creativity and engagement everywhere in our companies. I’m passionate about revealing these resources, and helping the organization leverage them. But it requires a big change in mindset, and in leadership behaviors.

 

Please give us an example of the innovative way Sanofi Pasteur are engaging with Staff

We’ve created a massive movement for change, driven by employees, facilitated by leadership, focusing on a common purpose (or “Big Opportunity”, as per John Kotter): make vaccines available to all who want them. Today, there are 3,500 volunteers across 14 sites worldwide. Volunteer networks are flourishing and implementing improvements at an unprecedented pace. Some improvements are just amazing. People are now taking action, together, spontaneously, to change and improve what they feel needs to be. Leadership is very supportive. Internal social media is the backbone for the community. It is profoundly transformative for our manufacturing culture.

 

One example of what you have developed which you think others could adopt as Best practice

Co-creation by the “diversity of many” is an absolute best practice. “People own what they help create”, Myron Rogers says. This is so true. Every time you ask people to adopt something they haven’t contributed to, you waste resources and undermine engagement. Also, decisions are more relevant when they build on the diversity of viewpoints – including front-line workers. Our movement creates many opportunities for people to get involved in the design of important decisions or projects. Internal social media is key to supporting this community of intent and fostering exchanges.

 

One example of the tangible business value delivered by your programme

Let me give you two examples. Charles, a shopfloor trainer, came up with an idea to change the way 2 machines were connected. The change actually decreases operation costs significantly and increases the production output. And Charles had this idea for 9 years! Only through the change movement and the volunteer dynamics was he able to express this idea, and be supported to implement it.

On another site, laboratory technicians challenged an established procedure and came up with a better way to manage product samples. This is saving 1,000 work hours a year. All this is unprompted… you don’t need heavy, costly improvement initiatives when everyone cares for the common good and feels empowered to speak up and act.

 

One example of how the programme improved the lives of employees

Hear Lorrie, one of our volunteers: “My involvement in the Big Opportunity started with a really bad day at work… And then I realized it was up to me to make things change… The “Big Opportunity” became “My Opportunities” to make a difference. I have had an incredible opportunity to meet people all with the same goal: ”What can we do to change the way we work?”. I have had an unprecedented opportunity to directly communicate with our global executives to give feedback and to gain knowledge as well as perspective on what we can do to change. We have made progress and recognize that we are all enabled to ask “why” and make changes”.

 

It’s very simple. We didn’t try to convince the Board about employee engagement. We convinced the Board about the business challenge which EE was the answer to. EE for the sake of EE makes no sense. Employee Engagement for business performance is a whole different story.

The EEA’s upcoming events

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Employee and Volunteers Engagement for Charities
28th April 2016, 08:30 – 12:30, London
FREE FOR MEMBERS

The role of Reward and Recognition in effective Employee Engagement
18th May 2016, 13:00 – 17:30, London
FREE FOR MEMBERS

Diversity & Inclusion Networking Event
22nd June 18:00 – 20:00, London
MEMBERS ONLY

The Communications Component of Employee Engagement
22nd June 2016, 13:00 – 17:30, London

Summer Networking Event
22nd June 18:00 – 20:00, London
MEMBERS ONLY

INTERVIEW: Jim Abbatt CEO of A2B Excellence

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Why are you so passionate about Employee Engagement?

We’ve been preaching about people since long before ‘employee engagement’ became a fashionable term. We’ve built our reputation for fixing problems in large organisations and improving business outcomes, mainly by rolling up our sleeves and mucking in rather than looking at spreadsheets. And a major component of that has been through working with employees from boardroom to shop floor, and tapping the latent talent, motivation and goodwill in engaged workforces. The reason employee engagement is rightly making an impression as a business discipline is that it makes great commercial sense.

How can investing in Employee Engagement help enhance a business?

How can it fail? I guarantee that your employees are the most powerful and flexible asset in your business. They are also likely to be your most expensive. When people are disengaged or under-utilised, you’re throwing away value. Worse still, disengagement is viral: demotivated people bring down the effectiveness, talent and productivity of the team around them. Hard though it may be at the start, investment in engagement is a dead cert, because an engaged team will similarly be exponentially more effective, productive and happy.

Drawing on your work with companies like TFL can you give us one example of an initiative that really helped engage staff?

Our Business Improvement Teams programme was a set of workshops that provided a forum for change across a 100+ department. Every individual was empowered to solve not just business challenges, but challenges which affected themselves. It’s a huge win-win: employees were authorised to work beyond their job descriptions and get credit for doing so, they solved real-world problems from which they would benefit, they took away skills which will last their whole careers, and the business solved a raft of problems. What’s not to love?

One example of what you have developed which you think others could adopt as Best practice?

Think about time out. At A2B, we’re brutally efficient, and we are certain that engagement is about business value as much as it is about happy employees. But nothing we do will ever work without being given the space and time to do so. We allocate time for everyone in our workshops, and we’re realistic about delivery schedules. If you think nobody can afford an hour out of their workday, then your business model is wrong. It’s far better to give everyone an hour out to work together effectively and gain maybe 20 hours back, than to maintain a status quo that’s broken.

One example of the tangible business value delivered by your programme?

At TfL, we’ve removed waste and bureaucracy, empowered teams to recommend their own solutions, improved governance and record-keeping, and raised fiscal management standards. We’ve been credited with saving thousands of man-days and millions of pounds – all without wielding the employment axe.

One example of how the programme improved the lives of employees?

Our teams are empowered to help shape their own departments and working environments. They have the satisfaction of ‘building the house they’re going to live in’. They are masters of their own futures, appreciate that they are part of an excellent and valued team, and have been exposed to parts of the business which they might otherwise never experience – picking up lifelong skills along the way.

INTERVIEW: James Dalton, Group Head of Engagement & Health

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Q1 -One example of what you have developed which you think others could adopt as Best practice
Integrate the real understanding of the core source of employee engagement (psychology and neuroscience) into leader development programmes – an understanding of the psychology of employee engagement rather than a transactional activity. If leaders understand the impact of their behaviour on colleagues then they are far more willing to change the way they manage others, especially when linked to personal emotions.

Q2 – One example of the tangible business value delivered by your programme
Growing levels of engagement and empowerment across our business which has led to measurable impacts in performance metrics; absence, productivity, retention and safety performance.

Q3 – One example of how the programme improved the lives of employees
It may be an obvious impact, but where we have improved EE in specific locations, it has impacted the level of turnover in that location. People want to stay working for us and really enjoy their jobs, are committed to their team mates and are treated well by their manager. There can be no better measure than colleagues enjoying what they do each day, and this gets passed onto our customers.

Q4 – One example of what you did to get the Board to see EE as a strategic investment
Linking engagement to absolute business KPIs, not just people metrics. Leaders need to see how employee engagement links to an improvement in all business metrics, and when discussing with particular board members is to link to their area, i.e. safety metrics with the Safety Director, make it applicable to them! We developed a tool to show the links from improved engagement to business performance with a financial impact on the bottom line.