Employment Minister: I Walk the Walk on Engagement

Last Updated Mar 23, 2010 8:21 AM EDT

The UK Government has just launched the final phase of its push on employee engagement among businesses and public sector organisations.

The Business Link website has a section devoted to guidance on how to bring about employee engagement in practical terms.

The guidance is broken down into four basic principles and was set out at the launch by co-author of the report Engaging for Success, Nita Clarke:

  1. set out a clear strategic objective
  2. Train your managers with the skills to engage employees
  3. Listen to the employee voice at every level
  4. Walk what you talk and make sure all the changes put through are reflected in the day-to-day running of your organisation.
Also at the launch to give government endorsement of the initiative was BIS employment minister Lord Young, who said the guidance to employers on the website was the point where the government handed over the challenge to businesses, that it had provided them with the tools to improve engagement within and it had reached the limit to what a government could do in this area.

I got a chance to speak with him afterwards and ask him a few questions:

Is there no follow on from the government?
The best we can do is lead by example in the public sector. We need to show the principles of employee engagement are evident there. People should be able to see It in elements like customer service.
We have a responsibility to underline a message that this is a powerful tool in improving the performance of your organisation, but we can't impose it on people, we have to get them to believe it.

Aren't there certain business realities that are influenced by government decisions, such as pay and job security, that may prove to be barriers to employees becoming engaged at work, whatever managers do?
Companies who have succeeded are those that practice what they preach. Companies which don't enhance engagement will face some challenges in the future.
It's the companies which have managed to negotiate with their employees to accept things like short time and discussions on pay freezes that have managed to survive the last two years.
When you are going through difficult times, it's workforces that are engaged that assist you through.

Do you walk the walk on engagement with your own team?
I think I have an engaged team. My team is quite dispersed. I have a small immediate office team, but I also have groups of civil servants who advise me. I am currently taking the Digital Economy Bill through the House of Lords and the bill team is very important to its success. It's important for me to form a positive relationship with them to do that.
I think I treat people with respect and listen to their point of view. I like to think I have my own opinion too.

Do you think the government leads by example on employee engagement? Write your comments below.

(Pic: bisgovuk cc2.0)