I’ve had a fair bit to say about employee engagement lately. So, I was very interested to read of the launch of a new UK Government sponsored taskforce on employee engagement. Set up after the release of the 2009 report, Engaging for Success, the Taskforce is mandated with examining the issues raised in the report. The report’s authors, David Macleod and Nita Clarke, will play key roles in the Taskforce.
Other members of the taskforce include prominent figures from both the public and private sectors. In the course of their work, they will collaborate with academics, think tanks and leading practitioners in the field. Also on the agenda is the setting up of an information web site for organizations wanting to find out more about how they can lift engagement levels. The taskforce is scheduled to report in 2012 on their recommendations for raising engagement levels in both public and private UK organizations.
With this development, I see some potential parallels with what the US Government did with supporting various quality initiatives in the 1980s. In that case, US companies were being routed by overseas manufacturers that were producing higher quality products at lower cost. The UK Government appears to be feeling the same pressures from offshore competition.
Here is Australia, we witnessed a similar impetus from the Commonwealth Government in the mid-90s. Our Industry Task Force on Leadership and Management Skills produced Enterprising Nation (Karpin Report). The Government initiatives that stemmed from that report sought to redress the perceived lack of managerial skills in Australia and, consequently, our lack of competitiveness on the international stage.
Perhaps the timing of the UK Taskforce could not be better as we continue our climb out of the depths of despair caused by the global financial meltdown. Companies are seeking to regain their strength and business owners are reflecting on how they can best reengage a workforce dispossessed by mass layoffs.
Add to that the fact that survey after survey has shown that engagement levels have remained in the doldrums for many years. Just as we learned with quality initiatives, the Government will need to be mindful that raising levels of employee motivation and engagement is not simply a matter of pushing out another multi-million dollar initiative or two. Employee enthusiasm must be built into the fabric of an organization. Employee engagement can’t be just another “bolt on” or flavor of the month.
Recognize also that employee engagement initiatives are not a magic elixir that will fix all of an organization’s ills. Poor performing organizations must pay attention to other areas of organizational capability. These include the organization’s ability and willingness to plan strategically for the future, satisfy its customers, design and improve systems and processes, manage projects, and so on. The authors of the Engaging for Success report recognize that fixing employee engagement is not a universal panacea, so that is a good start to dealing with employee motivation realistically. Let’s wish the Taskforce well as they start their ambitious endeavor.
Task Force to Improve Levels of Employee Engagement
Engaging for Success: Enhancing Performance through Employee Engagement
Enterprising Nation: Renewing Australia’s Managers to Meet the Challenges of the Asia-Pacific Century/Report of the Industry Task Force on Leadership and Management Skills