Magazine article Public Finance

Engaging Matters

Magazine article Public Finance

Engaging Matters

Article excerpt

THE MANTRA OF 'more for less1 is being voiced increasingly loudly across the public sector. In such circumstances, where organisations of all shapes and sizes are trying to carry out their remits with fewer resources, leaders should be focusing more than ever on unlocking the potential of their people. That's why improving relations with staff and ensuring they are involved in decisions have to be priorities. We call this 'employee engagement'.

Put simply, this is the oil in the wheels of any organisation: it's how an employer builds a productive relationship with employees. It is about ensuring that every employee feels part of the organisation, that everyone is working towards the same goals and giving their best. Done effectively, it can inspire employees to give extra commitment and effort to the organisation, increasing productivity and performance as a result.

There is no question that employee engagement makes a difference. Last year, we co-wrote Engaging for success, an independent report to government exploring the role that employee engagement can play in increasing performance.

During our research, we met many public sector organisations that showed us how effective employee involvement had helped them improve the quality and efficiency of their services. These included councils, government departments, NHS trusts and colleges.

Wychavon District Council is a very good example. It went from patchy customer service and departmentalism to being named best council to work for by The Times in 2008. It is the only district council to score top marks in use of resources and valu e -for- money audit assessments for four years running.

Jack Hegarty, the council's managing director, says: Our strong performance is down to the engagement of our people; we simply couldn't deliver the great deal residents expect from us without the motivated team we now have.'

We also collated a range of studies and metrics that confirmed the case for employee engagement. For example, a study from Towers Watson found 78% of highly involved employees in the UK public sector felt they could make an impact on public service provision or customer service. That's compared with just 29% of the 'disengaged'. Other studies highlighted significant benefits in areas such as innovation, productivity, employee advocacy and absence rates. …

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