Tag Archives: engagement

Do you love where you work?

Loving where you work isn’t only good for you, it’s good for your employer, too – as it improves your productivity and performance.

That’s why Milton Keynes employee communications agency Headlines is backing a new Engage for Success group helping local business to foster a culture of #lovewhereyouwork.

Launched in May, the group is one of a number being established around the country through Engage for Success (EFS), a voluntary organisation backed by Government and major corporations, that aims to grow awareness about the power and potential of employee engagement.

Research by EFS points to staff turnover being reduced by 40%, absenteeism by 25% and productivity increased by 59% in companies with high levels of employee engagement.

Headlines’ Managing Editor Sue Kiddy has been involved with the national EFS movement since its inauguration at 10 Downing Street in 2011 and is one of the founder members of EFS MK. She said: “Employee engagement truly does have the power to change lives and working communities, and more and more organisations are recognising the benefits. EFS MK is about local people and organisations coming together to promote and share this in and around Milton Keynes.”

At the first EFS MK meeting in May, Engage for Success Executive Director Cathy Brown talked about the four enablers of engagement that apply in any scenario – wherever you are, whatever you do and whoever you’re engaging with. You can read more about these in this article written by Headlines’ Matt Johnson.

The next meeting is on 21 September, and if you’re interested in coming along or finding out more about the group, please contact Sue Kiddy.

Now in its 23rd year, Headlines is a specialist internal communications agency based in Milton Keynes. With clients that include some of the world’s best-known companies, the agency creates internal publications and other tools to help build a higher-performing culture through improved employee communication and engagement.

Find out more on the Headlines website.

Six-hour days: A success story

Advocates of a shorter working day say the approach boosts employee morale and productivity. Others argue it is too expensive and may reduce worker engagement.

So what’s the reality? Digital tourism agency Senshi began trialling six-hour days last March, and subsequently made it their permanent way of working. We asked Director Chris Torres how the approach has worked for him.

“When I first heard about the concept, I thought it was a great idea. Part of it was that my wife had just given birth to our second child. Also, I thought everyone at Senshi would love a bit more free time.

“When I told the team, they couldn’t believe I was suggesting it, but they were all in favour.

“During the first week I came up with a plan of how our days would go and showed it to our Production Manager. She agreed it, then we started a one-month trial, which was very successful. We’ve since implemented it permanently.,

“Our team pretty much self-manage their own projects. They know the deadlines that need to be hit. It’s definitely important to have a team capable of self-managing and working on their own initiative. The team here have been great. They all work together and help each other. They’re no less engaged than they were when we were working eight-hour days.

“We’ve seen production increase. Although we’re doing fewer hours, the team is more focused on getting tasks done within short sprints. We’ve actually seen projects completed more quickly.

“Work-life balance is definitely better too. People can get home earlier. I have more time to think at home. Being able to think with no distractions gives me time to plan and come up with ideas.

“Regarding internal communication, we tend to restrict our team meetings to our daily huddle. We try not to pull people off what they’re doing. Our Production Manager has more meetings, then relays things to the team so they can get on with their work. A lot of communication within the team is face to face.

“I can understand why some businesses might be hesitant to try the six-hour working day. One worry for me was ‘how will this affect our clients?’ But there have been no issues at all. All in all, it has been very successful.”

A typical day at Senshi

• 9.30am – 12.45pm: The team come into the office and work on tasks in 45-minute sprints, with five minute breaks between each sprint
• 12.45pm – 1.15pm: Lunch break
• 1.15pm – 2pm: Daily huddle, where team members share updates on their various projects
• 2pm – 3.30: More 45-minute sprints
• 3.30pm: Team members share summaries of their day, explaining what they’ve achieved and any problems they’ve encountered.

Case study: Engaging the workforce at the North Pole

Elf engagement at the North Pole has been overhauled, resulting in its highest ever engagement score. We asked the Chief Elf Officer (CEO) how they’ve done it.

What’s the history behind employee engagement at the North Pole?

Being an elf’s a vocation so, although it will never make them ‘welfy’, we’re lucky that our workforce is a dedicated one. Making wishes come true on Christmas Day is an amazing project to be part of.

However, just because our elves are passionate, it doesn’t mean we have it easy. Until you’ve seen the operation we run, it’s hard to imagine the level of preparation required to ensure that Christmas Eve runs without a hitch and that the right presents are delivered, on time, to 1.9 billion children.

What are your biggest challenges?

Elves enter the profession as youngsters, and employee turnover is extremely low. Our oldest elf is 3,548 years old! Keeping them engaged for so many years and introducing new ways of working to those who are set in their ways is tricky. Then there’s the post-Christmas lull to contend with. Plus, we employ 550,000 elves, so uniting them is another challenge.

What is your strategy for keeping them engaged?

Since Christmas 2015, it’s been to empower, involve and appreciate them, every day.

It’s not groundbreaking, but it works. We want the elves to understand that they are all important parts of a giant jigsaw, grasp the bigger picture of where they fit in, and know that they can make a huge difference. And lastly, we have made Santa far more visible, following feedback that the elves thought he was always off eating mince pies, yet still got most of the glory at Christmas.

So what have you done differently this year?

We’ve made lots of changes in conjunction with our IC agency. Our biggest success has been introducing an elf app called Appy Christmas. It’s taken a while, but 90 per cent of the workforce has now downloaded it as their schedules and pay slips can be accessed on it.

In December 2015, we began trialling Facebook’s ESN, Workplace, which has turned out to be a wonderful tool for collaborating, networking and generating ideas. Through Workplace Live Santa now broadcasts live video message updates to all elves, wherever they are. It’s broken down barriers between Santa and the elves as he’s so active on it and they can see what he’s really doing – and that he’s a busy guy. Everyone’s on a level playing field on Workplace.

We’ve also relaunched our employee magazine, The Grotto, so it now focuses on in-depth features that you wouldn’t want to read on a screen.

The Tinsels – quarterly awards through which Santa recognises and rewards high-performing elves – have been introduced. They’ve been great for elf-esteem and for ensuring the elves know they’re appreciated.

Lastly, we’ve introduced fortnightly lunch and learn sessions with the reindeer. It’s addressing a disconnect between them and the elves, and now that the elves can remember all of their names, things are really improving.

What does The Grotto app involve?

It’s a great for instantly sharing news and announcements – and it encourages two-way conversation. We use it for polls and pulse checks, which empowers the elves and allows them to have their say. There’s also an Elfstagram section where the elves share Elfies, and Santa occasionally comments on them, which is driving engagement.

What have the results of all this been?

Our elf engagement survey has shown that we have 89 per cent engagement, which is extremely high. More than ever, everyone knows their own roles in conjunction with everyone else’s, which means less error and duplication, and more success.

On most days, you’ll find whistling, cheering and smiling across the workshop, mail house, wrapping and loading departments – everywhere. Safe to say, smiling’s our favourite!