Engaged employees: a strategy for growth

The UK government announced this week that it is backing the creation of an ‘Employee Engagement Taskforce’, specifically designed to look at the issue of how to engage and motivate employees as to harness them as a force for growth (reported in HR Magazine by David Woods). The taskforce is the result of recommendations made in the ‘Engaging for Success’ report (commissioned in 2009 by the previous business secretary, Lord Mandelson, to examine how increased employee engagement could benefit business competitiveness) and written by David MacLeod and Nita Clarke. Macleod is quoted in Woods’ article as saying:

“In each of us there is a level of capability and potential. If I am managed in one way, then this can come out. Our challenge is how we can get that extra bit out… Conscious or not, this is the philosophy of most employees – ‘I am not a human resource. I am not human capital. I am a human being. If treated like a human being, I will make a greater contribution.’.”

The government’s interest in this is fairly obvious: create a workforce that will help to grow the private sector economy to take up the slack from the cuts in public sector spending. It’s a really interesting move. Employee engagement has long been linked to business success and growth by some of the most forward thinking companies. But I’m interested – and encouraged – to see that this view is now so widely accepted that government is promoting employee engagement as critical to business growth.

We’ve moved from a manufacturing-based economy – one that largely relies on the quality of the products it makes – to one that is reliant on service. The delivery of service is reliant on individuals, and those individuals are motivated by engagement and their experience in the workplace. As a result, the employee experience is becoming increasingly important to the success of businesses, and therefore our economy.

This initiative by government is a sure sign that our collective mindset towards a service-based economy has irrevocably shifted. We’ll be watching with interest.

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