Why Norfolk needs to be Engaged

Published in Norfolk Director Magazine, Spring/Summer 2019
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Why Norfolk needs to be Engaged

By Cassandra Andrews and Brian Bush, partners in Engaging Norfolk

There is copious evidence that businesses with high levels of employee engagement are more efficient and effective.

In 2009, a report was requested by the Secretary of State for Business to take an in-depth look at employee engagement and to report on its potential benefits for companies, organisations and individual employees.

The subsequent report known as the Macleod Report was published by Engage for Success and concluded that if employee engagement and the principles that lie behind it were more widely understood, if good practice was more widely shared, if the potential that resides in the country’s workforce was more fully unleashed, we could see a step change in workplace performance and in employee well-being, for the considerable benefit of UK plc.

From this report, co-author David MacLeod OBE created Engage for Success, a dynamic and voluntary movement organisation to promote employee engagement as a better way to work.

So, what is employee engagement?

The report identified four enablers of engagement:

•  Visible empowering leadership: Providing a strong strategic narrative about the organisation, where it’s come from and where it’s going.

•  Engaging managers: Who focus on their people, coach and treat them as individuals.

•  An employee voice: A listening ear throughout the organisation that respects employees’ views and ensures problems are swiftly dealt with.

•  Organisational integrity: Where the values on the wall are reflected in day to day behaviours.

But, how can this knowledge benefit business?

Some of the findings point towards a deeper commitment from employees reducing leave, sickness absence, reduction in conflict and grievance, less accidents and a subsequent increase in productivity and therefore profit.

The business would be improved by employees driving increased creativity, developing knowledge to improve customer service and product innovation.

A business behaving with integrity, in-line with its own company values, promotes trust in the market place and embeds a culture of authenticity throughout the workforce.

Happy and motivated people produce better outcomes and enjoy it more when they do so. Happy engaged people in a happy place to work. This also relates in the culture that is developed providing a more attractive workplace for new potential employees.

Great knowledge and detail, but what about businesses here in Norfolk?

Locally based employee engagement specialist, Cassandra Andrews, picked up the challenge to engage Norfolk. As an inherited Norfolk person, Cassandra was driven to start addressing the skills gap and to understand how to retain and attract talent.

She focused on answering some key questions.

•  How can employers located in a region with an above average ageing population, attract and retain the talented workforce needed?

•  Was Norfolk offering millennials what they wanted?

•  Was business focused on profits or process but not people?

•  Why did Norfolk talent go elsewhere?

•  Were students studying here in Norfolk then heading off to work elsewhere

“We want everyone working in Norfolk to want, and be able, to give their best each day, so that each day is a great day at work, and that workplaces in Norfolk are thriving, growing and developing through the commitment, energy, and creativity of the people that work in them” says Cassandra.

With the full support of Engage for Success, Cassandra decided to kick start an Engaging Norfolk movement and start the conversation around engagement, addressing the skills gap in the county and raising awareness of the benefits of an engaged workforce.

“Engaging Norfolk promotes practical shared learning and insights between Norfolk businesses. It also shares the four key drivers of employee engagement and how this in turn can drive sales and therefore profits. The ‘icing on the cake’ is the provision of a platform for business to meet, collaborate and network with like-minded organisations.”

Approaching local organisations for support Cassandra was pleased to align aspiration with leading employers Birketts LLP and Pure Resourcing. Soon to follow was Norfolk Chamber of Commerce. The launch event was held on Norfolk Day 27th July 2018 at Birketts offices in Norwich with David MacLeod OBE as the keynote speaker. David inspired the 60 attendees with a stirring talk outlining the direct connection between engaged employees and positive organisational outcomes.

Why Norfolk needs to be Engaged 1
David MacLeod OBE inspired the crowd at the launch of Engaging Norfolk
Credit Adam Barnes

The second event, held in October 2018 saw Faran Johnson, Chief Executive at Engage for Success, talk candidly about instigating change in the public sector and her honest amusing approach was welcomed by the audience. Successful local entrepreneur Chris Sargisson, now Chief Executive of Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, also spoke passionately about his focus on ensuring his Chamber team connect to the vision of the organisation, so they are both engaged and delivering outstanding customer service.

Following the second event, Brian Bush joined the movement. A businessman who is passionate about people development and connection, he was a perfect fit.

“Business is all about people as employees and customers” he explains “In my experience organisations often spend on recruitment and not on development. Through a determined culture all can align if led by inspirational leaders.

“I was born in Norfolk and have worked and lived across the UK, but this is still the best county I have seen. We have a beautiful landscape around us, and we must ensure that this is not the only narrative for attracting talent and business inwards. Norfolk has developed exciting, innovating and world leading business across multiple sectors and we do not always shout loudly enough about the amazing ecosystem that exists here.”

The last event held in February saw two successful businesses talk about Organisational Integrity. At this sell out event, Lisa Collen, People Director at Flagship Group, ran an interactive and thought-provoking session about personal and professional integrity. Followed by James Groves, Commercial Director at Indigo Swan, who shared his philosophy of caring personally and challenging directly. His talk centred on how integrity and authenticity has embedded their values into their culture. “Everyone can talk the talk, but at Indigo Swan we walk the walk every single day.”

The next event in May will discuss the importance of Employee Voice, where two Norfolk business leaders will share how they have put mechanisms in place to enable them to have an ongoing conversation with their employees to ensure that every voice is heard.

Cassandra and Brian are excited to be putting on a roadshow of events across the whole of the county over the next six months. They are resolute that Engaging Norfolk is about supporting and educating all Norfolk businesses, so that the whole county is a really great place to work.

If you would like to be kept up to date with events, email your details to engage@engagingnorfolk.org or join the conversation, by following on Twitter@engagingnorfolk

Why Norfolk needs to be Engaged 3
Cassandra Andrews + Brian Bush at the launch of Engaging Norfolk
Credit Adam Barnes

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