Louise Aston: Help employers achieve engagement

This week’s launch of the Engage for Success report (Employee engagement – the evidence) has reiterated the critical need for organisations to ensure they have an effective employee engagement strategy in place. The numbers speak for themselves: £26 billion in gross domestic product (GDP) is being missed each year as a result of poor engagement; UK productivity was 20% lower than the rest of the G7 in 2011; and 20 million workers are not delivering their full capability.

Business in the Community (BITC) has been working as part of the Engage for Success team since the prime minister launched the Employee Engagement Task Force last year, and we are very excited to see the first-stage findings go live this week. Our chief executive Stephen Howard is a member of the task force and supporter of the initiative, and we have been working as part of the wellbeing, engagement and corporate social responsibility (CSR) subgroup to integrate our experience from creating the BITC Workwell movement.

Having recognised the need for, and opportunity from, strong employee engagement, our focus is on helping employers achieve it. We believe the key to realising both individual and organisational potential is looking at people management holistically, across all areas of business activity. While many organisations have some initiatives in place, few have a truly integrated programme that is linked to business performance and broader societal benefits. 

Investors need to become more interested in the link between business performance and people management. It was their demands for a more rigorous and consistent approach to evaluating best employee management practice that led us to working with leading international organisations to develop Workwell Public Reporting Guidelines.

Workwell provides a framework for creating healthy, engaged and resilient workforces by considering activity across four areas: creating a happy and engaging work environment; promoting communications and social connections across work; providing interventions to manage health and wellbeing; and creating an environment that promotes healthy behaviours. It is supported by a series of metrics and guidelines that help businesses understand how they can maximise wellness and engagement.

We are currently in the process of measuring how the FTSE 100 companies (many of whom are supporters of Engage for Success) manage and report their employee wellness and engagement. The results of this will provide a unique insight into corporate employee management and help to highlight both examples of excellence and areas of key concern. 

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We look forward to sharing the results of our benchmark with Engage for Success, and to helping UK employers ensure their workforce is fit for the challenges of the future. Holistic people management is critical for long-term business success.

– Louise Aston, director of BITC Workwell, Business in the Community