Winner of The Political Cartoon of The Year.

Winner of The Political Cartoon of The Year.

by James Murphy – The EEA

One good thing to come from all the unexpected events in the world of politics this year for the was the content for some great political cartoons.

I was lucky enough to attend The Political Cartoon of The Year Awards last night curtesy of Ellwood Atfield, the communications and advocacy headhunter.

The evening was kicked off by Ben Atfield, before passing over the host for the evening, straight from Strictly Come Dancing, Ed Balls.


The very well deserved winner depicted the moment when Michael Gove stabbed Boris in the back by deciding to run for leader of the Tory part after the Brexit vote.


The winning artist was Peter Brookes Political cartoonist for @TheTimes

I would like to say congratulations to Peter and a massive thank you to Ellwood Atfield for the invite.

Our next event Employee Engagement Technology Debunked on Feb 09 will be held at The Ellwood Atfield Gallery, we hope to see you there.

All that is left for me to say is thanks for all of your support this year, have a great Christmas and I’m looking forward to seeing you in 2017.


Why Every Chief Human Resource Officer Should Become Chief Employee Experience Officer

by guest blogger Katarzyna Kowalska of emplo

Everyone realizes the importance of good customer service. You do too, don’t you? Providing outstanding customer service is a great way to differentiate your business. While products are easy to copy (especially in today’s highly commoditized world), customer service still isn’t.

Do you know where great customer service starts? It starts with your employees because your employees are your most important customers. If you don’t treat them the way they want to be treated, they won’t become your brand’s advocates.

The most successful companies value employee experience as much as they value customer experience. Are you one of them? I hope you are!

What does it mean to be a chief employee experience officer?


Some time ago, Airbnb has turned their chief human resource officer into a chief employee experience officer, and not without a reason. You might think that it is just a fancy job title, and you are right—it sounds really good, but it is much more than that.

According to Bersin, “A chief employee experience officer’s job is to make sure that HR is thinking about what is making employees productive at work and making sure that the tools that they are receiving at work from IT are helping them get their jobs done. That’s a very new role for HR.” 

Being a chief employee experience officer focuses on people and their experiences rather than on processes. HR officers are evolving from process developers into designers and experience architects; it’s a really powerful role! But with big power comes big responsibility.

You have to rethink every aspect of work: the physical environment, human interaction, recruitment processes, communication, and employee evaluation. All of these factors impact how employees perceive their workplace.

Why is the chief employee experience officer role so important?


The quality of employee experience shapes the future of your company; it’s a serious statement but it’s true. The rules of the workplace have changed, and employees are becoming more and more demanding. Tempting them with higher salaries, a cool office space or unlimited free coffee is no longer enough to keep them engaged and motivated. I know you have heard it many times before, but Millennials are becoming the largest share of the American workforce, and they are a tough crowd to impress.

However, it’s not just about Millennials; all employees, irrespective of their age, are equally important. Since on average, an employee in the US spends 47 hours a week at work, with 4 in 10 workers saying they work 59 hours a week, the least you can do is to make sure they enjoy the experience. Right? But that is easier said than done.

Many great companies are already doing it!


Companies such as Airbnb, Adobe, DuPont, Autodesk and New York Life have already realized the importance of creating a great employee experience, and it has really paid off. 90% of Airbnb employees are likely to recommend Airbnb as a great place to work. How did they achieve it? Mark Levy, the head of employee experience at Airbnb, says they focus on creating a memorable workplace experience; they treat their employees just like they treat their customers. Their office resembles a home; employees can work from anywhere they like and whomever they like. Airbnb Co-founder Joe Gebbia says that “everything at Airbnb is a continuation of what it’s like to be a guest in somebody’s house.”

However, it’s not just about the office space. They pay a lot of attention to their recruitment process. They analyzed the best and the worst hiring moments (focusing on emotions) and learned from them. They also hugely value employee development. However, they don’t just assign training to employees; they let their employees co-create talent development opportunities. This enhances engagement and motivation.


Take advantage of collaborative technologies


Part of every employee experience officer’s role should be to ensure effective communication. Nowadays, people use social technologies to communicate, which have become an inseparable part of our daily lives, so why not use them to communicate at work? The way you communicate should reflect your company culture. Are you dynamic and innovative? Then dive into the world of social technology just like Airbnb did. They perceive social technologies as a powerful tool for communication and for understanding local differences between Airbnb worldwide offices.

Of course not every company has a budget as big as Airbnb or Google that allows them to spend lots of money on their office space. But you know what? This definitely shouldn’t stop you from creating an awesome employee experience. As mentioned earlier, the physical aspect is the least important. Use collaborative technology to your advantage. There are many solutions available; emplo is one of them.

emplo not only allows you to enhance internal communication by significantly reducing the number of internal emails, but it also brings your employees closer together. Thanks to such features like the personalized newsfeed, groups, or the knowledge base, your peers can exchange ideas, share knowledge and cooperate on projects. All of this will help you significantly in creating a remarkable employee experience that your employees deserve—of that I am sure.

Have you decided who the chief employee experience officer is going to be in your organization? If not, then you better start thinking about it. Good luck!


Employee happiness and success

by guest blogger Lottie Gunn


The Employee Engagement Alliance hosted another interactive, very informative session – The Employee Happiness Event.

The session was kicked off by Gautam Sahgal from Perkbox who talked about the huge employee engagement challenge that we have – 61% of people in the UK are disengaged. He said that the UK is in the midst of an employee disengagement crisis which can cost our economy a lot of money through retention and recruitment, sick days and low productivity. This can be £3k, plus, per employee a year.

Gautam discussed the results of a recent survey they had conducted which highlighted the main reasons for low engagement:

  1. 26% of people cited lack of reward and recognition
  2. 21% of people cited a negative culture
  3. 17% cited being micro managed and a lack of autonomy
  4. 15% cited a bad boss
  5. 15% cited long working hours

Gautam highlighted that recognising employees just twice a week – a simple thank you and recognition for effort – can have such a vast impact. And it’s free!

You can also recognise people through gamification which means that recognition is more likely to be spread far and wide and also prevents people getting disheartened if they’re not recognised at the weekly/ monthly team meeting. Also a lot of people don’t like being recognised publically – it may be a British thing, I’m not sure… Recognition for a job well done is very powerful and often more powerful and lasts longer than an extrinsic/ monetary reward. (See Dan Pink’s book entitled Drive along with studies that have been conducted which are referenced further down this blog).


Emma Bridger from the People Lab

Emma discussed the psychology of happiness and engagement. She said that if we focus on being happy first – success will come. Emma highlighted that happy people are more likely to:

  • Be more productive
  • Have less burnout
  • Sell more

She discussed positive psychology and that being in a positive brain state releases dopamine that makes us feel happy, which turns on all our learning centres in our brain so that we work harder, smarter, faster.

So if someone does something nice, it makes us feel happy (dopamine is released) and we work harder, smarter, faster – you get the picture…

Emma highlighted that it takes 21 days to re-wire our brains into a more positive state, by doing just one of these things every day:

  • Say three gratitude’s a day
  • Write a journal
  • Exercise
  • Meditate
  • Do a random act of kindness

Doing one or a few of these a day can re-wire our brains to scan for the positive. Emma also discussed writing a Playlist of activities that make you feel better. This may be watching a fun film, reading a book, going for a walk or to a gig, being mindful, etc.

She stressed that we’re all different, so what engages/ motivates one person is not going to be the same for others. We need to understand what good looks like for an organisaiton and how to engage people (what works in your organisation).

Emma also cited Daniel Pink, the author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, and how people need to have purpose, it motivates us and helps make us happy.

(From Wikipedia 2016) Drive is the fourth non-fiction book by Daniel Pink… In the text, he argues that human motivation is largely intrinsic, and that the aspects of this motivation can be divided into autonomy, mastery, and purpose. He argues against old models of motivation driven by rewards and fear of punishment, dominated by extrinsic factors such as money.

In his book Daniel Pink has made a 140-character summary of what the book is about, in the style of Twitter.

“Carrots & Sticks are so last Century. Drive says for 21st century work, we need to upgrade to autonomy, mastery and purpose.”

Based on studies done at MIT and other universities, higher pay and bonuses resulted in better performance ONLY if the task consisted of basic, mechanical skills. It worked for problems with a defined set of steps and a single answer. If the task involved cognitive skills, decision-making, creativity, or higher-order thinking, higher pay resulted in lower performance. As a supervisor, you should pay employees enough that they are not focused on meeting basic needs and feel that they are being paid fairly. If you don’t pay people enough, they won’t be motivated. Pink suggests that you should pay enough “to take the issue of money off the table.”

To motivate employees who work beyond basic tasks, give them these three factors to increase performance and satisfaction:

  • Autonomy — Our desire to be self directed. It increases engagement over compliance.
  • Mastery — The urge to get better skills.
  • Purpose — The desire to do something that has meaning and is important. Businesses that only focus on profits without valuing purpose will end up with poor customer service and unhappy employees.

People who feel like they have a purpose in life are found to be happier than others. It’s often the same at work – finding your purpose and role to play. If you know what you’re there to do, what your purpose is (what your organisation’s purpose is and how you fit in) this inevitably motivates and inspires you more.

Emma concluded by discussing how you shouldn’t make assumptions about what engages people. Different things will engage different people. Think about what your engagement survey is measuring, the questions that it’s asking. Is it asking the right questions and measuring the right factors for your employees and what your business is trying to achieve? There is an argument for bespoke surveys and not buying one off the shelf.


Andrea Callanan from InspireMe

Andrea discussed how engagement is about making someone feel something – about having a connection. At InspireMe they help people be the best that they can be through workplace choirs, people development, training and engagement. She asks clients to answer:

  • What would your people look like if they were inspired?
  • How would they behave if they were engaged?
  • How would they feel?
  • How would your business benefit?

Andrea talked about how your company values will determine how people behave and behaviour (how things are done around here) will determine your culture. She discussed how happiness at work is to do with a connection. You need to connect with your company, what they’re about, its values and purpose and your role within that. It has to connect and align with you. It’s not about a gym membership… Your company really needs to help feed the core sense of who you are, so you feel part of something and gives you meaning.

Andrea discussed Simon Sinek and his book ‘Start with Why’ which explains how to inspire with ideas. Andrea cited contribution, purpose and value being the biggest drivers for people.

And if you’re having a bad day, remember that Churchill repeated a year at school and Einstein’s teacher told him he was academically subnormal.

How employee engagement can help your employer brand

by guest blogger Lottie Gunn, Ellwood Atfield

Another great Employee Engagement Alliance session that Malcolm Cotterell kicked off, by defining what an employer brand is:

The CIPD states that Employer Branding: promotes the attributes and qualities, often intangible, that make an organisation distinctive, promise a particular kind of employment experience and appeal to those who will thrive and perform best in its culture.

Malcolm discussed how every business has an employer brand (by default) whether it’s written down or managed in some way. On this basis employees can be a company’s greatest advocates or your most damaging antagonist. Especially with the rise of social media. Glassdoor is a prime example of this, as is Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Malcolm stated that the litmus test is: How would your employees talk about your business in a pub? He also discussed how you can use engaged employees to spread the (good) word through internal and external channels:

  • Blogs
  • Testimonials, not just about the company but also the location
  • Videos

Amongst other thing…

Read more on The Role of Reward and Recognition in Effective Employee Engagement.

Malcolm also discussed how recruitment, development, policies and procedures all need to be in line with the vision and values of a company. Find out what connects a company and what disconnects it and work with that.


‘How things are done around your business’ IS your business

Tanya Harris who is the CEO of ICOM4 discussed: The Power of Living Your Brand and how culture represents your brand, which people sometimes forget: ‘How things are done around your business’ IS your business. How your employees speak to each other and customers, represents your brand.

As Warren Buffett once proclaimed: “It takes 20 years to build a good reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” 

Everything your business does needs to be linked to your vision, strategy and values: your recruitment; employee’s development; policies, etc. They all need to reflect what your organisation is trying to achieve.

From a recruitment perspective it is so true. Organisations/ hiring managers/ HR need to think about the behaviours that they want someone to demonstrate, which fit with what your organisation is trying to achieve. An organisation’s recruitment process must reflect this – from overall branding, adverts (their tone, etc.), interview style and process. When  you’re looking to hire someone into your team it’s important to also think about what type of person will complement your team, and this might not necessarily be the person that’s exactly like you… Belbin’s team roles can provide a useful guide. It suggests that a team must consist of different roles/ types of people to achieve maximum performance.


Internal Environment

Amy Brann who is a Director at Synaptic Potential which is the first company dedicated to bridging the gap between scientists and organisations and helps organisations understand how their people actually work/ tick.

Amy discussed the highlights of their White Paper on How to Get Board Buy-in for Employee Engagement and the importance of organisations clarifying what they want people to be engaged in – what do you want people to do – what behaviour are you looking for? What are the results that people should be generating? Then designing an internal environment to best support that. So if you want people to be innovative, if this is one of your values, create an environment that stimulates innovation in people. She discussed the way that our brain works and how certain things, like playing with lego, for example, will stimulate innovation in someone.

Amy also highlighted how TRUST is key and quoted Stephen M R Covey: “The first job of a leader—at work or at home—is to inspire trust.”

She also discussed that to get Board buy-in for employee engagement you need to speak their language.


The Panel

The session then finished with a panel discussion where the speakers were joined by Chairman of the Employee Engagement Alliance Crispin Manners and Louisa Moreton from Instinctif, where it was highlighted that an Employer Brand must be two-way: the organisation must set clear expectations of what they will provide the employee and also what is expected from the employee in return.
It was also highlighted that if people are voicing their opinion, even if it’s negative, then at least they have the passion to do this. It’s those who aren’t speaking up who are the hardest to connect with. As long as there’s a dialogue then things can be changed and when they are changed it can’t be a one-off. People need constant communication and if initiatives start they need to continue, otherwise employee’s will lose trust.

Making praise and recognition actually work

by Guest blogger  CEO & Co-Founder at Perkbox & Huddlebuy,

It’s no secret that both giving and receiving praise makes us feel good: we’re psychologically wired to function in a receive-give and give-receive kind of environment. When we feel a sense of pride and satisfaction in what we’ve achieved, our brain releases the hormone dopamine, immediately awakening the reward and pleasure areas of our brain.

Receiving credit where credit is due is the simplest form of recognising one’s existence. A cultural analysis by Alversson & Willmott says that:

“A sense of internal coherence and high self-esteem facilitate a positive process of organisational control…”

…So what on earth does that mean? Basically, that you are more likely to produce higher quality work in less time when you feel needed and positively regarded. When you are praised for enriching and supporting your office’s mission, or when you are recognised for contributing to your culture (co-workers, tasks, team goals), you’ll feel that you are a valuable cog in the business machine. You’ll feelengaged.

On the flip side, the ability to recognise the importance of an individual’s particular talent in a team and exactly how that can be supercharged is at the root of a good employer, and, in turn, a successful business.

What’s not to love?

Unfortunately, when it comes to work, some employers will simply throw money at their team in an attempt to provoke these feelings of worth and to motivate their staff to work hard, year upon year. And it’s true, providing a short-lived, release-action financial reward can cause a spike in employee motivation. Temporarily, at least.

This is all very well in the short-term, but everyone knows that with the highs come the lows. Although management may not realise it, financial rewards can often contribute to a rollercoaster ride of emotions amongst their workforce: employees receive a boost when they are rewarded, but tend to return quickly to ‘normality’, feeling more deflated than they did beforehand. What’s more, being locked into an expectation that bonuses will increase year on year is a one-way track to disappointed employees, across the board.

We are increasingly exposed to research backing the importance of non-financial praise and recognition as a way of motivating teams for longer, sustained periods of time, whether that is peer-to-peer, employer to employee or familial relationships.

Why is this?

It’s science: frequent feedback and recognition for completed projects or tasks results in small boosts of dopamine, the‘happy hormone’, rather than the bonus cycle, which is extreme highs followed by lows. The nature of peer-to-peer recognition means that employees are not only praised when they are expecting it, but also when they are not, whether it is from colleagues in their team, or from other staff members across department. It’s a no-brainer: there’s less expectation and therefore less disappointment, in addition to a greater appreciation for the recognition they do receive.

According to McKinsey & Company:

“Non-financial motivators are more effective than extra cash in building long-term employee engagement in most sectors, job functions, and business contexts”. 

The graph* below is very interesting. It highlights the lack of correlation between the frequency at which employers use non-financial incentives and their effectiveness. In other words, despite the fact that a large percentage of people believe non-financial incentives to be ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ effective, they are deployed with a lot less frequency than financial.

So, how can you praise and recognise at work to ensure that you don’t tip the scale in the wrong direction? A rewards system is something that needs to be worked on systematically.

Here are a few simple suggestions to get you started:

  1. Be specific in your praise – recognise individual achievements. Whether that is a well-written report, a creative idea or a perfect cup of tea, shout about it!

  2. Show appreciation – Both employees and employers can recognise hard work and achievement. Give your teammate a simple, verbal ‘well done’ or a quick pat on the back or, if you’re an employer with a little cash to spare, you can go all out and reward a star team member with an experience, like a skydive or a hot air balloon ride.

  3. Be individual – This one’s for the employers: you need to understand your team and personalise your praise. Not everyone will want to be praised publicly – some value a simple thank you gift over long public speeches of adornment. Understand the “language” someone speaks and recognise them in a way they will appreciate most. It’s this that will differentiate you from other employers.

This piece was brought to you by Perkbox – the UK’s fastest growing employee engagement platform. Perkbox helps businesses of all sizes to boost the financial, emotional and physical wellbeing of their team by providing employees with on-the-go access to a range of perks, an online reward and recognition system and a wellness hub. Click here to find out more.

The EEA’s upcoming events


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

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

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

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

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