Scott McKenzie's Collective Conversation Blog » the big society http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie Fri, 01 Jun 2012 10:48:08 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.9.2 en hourly 1 What we can learn from Robert Owen http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/2011/04/04/what-we-can-learn-from-robert-owen/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/2011/04/04/what-we-can-learn-from-robert-owen/#comments Mon, 04 Apr 2011 08:29:51 +0000 Scott McKenzie http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/?p=269

I’ve been reflecting a bit more about how “wellbeing” connects to Employee Engagement.

I recently watched a fantastic BBC documentary on the co-operative movement. One of the founders Robert Owen has become a bit of hero to me .

Owen was literally a hundred years ahead of his time. He sought to build working environments which were safe, sustainable and sustaining for those involved. He was aiming to build communities which were genuinely collaborative, where colleagues worked for the greater good.

Profits were ploughed back into the business. Investments made in the working environment, living conditions and education.

Indeed, there was a real focus on taking children out of poverty and putting them in purpose-built schools – at a time when there was no state education system and children commonly worked in factories and mills in truly appalling conditions. I have no doubt that all of these initiatives were key factors in genuinely engaging employees.

Owen was a visionary and a philanthropist. A leader in every sense. His ideas shaped the co-operative movement which has given us great companies like  the John Lewis Partnership.

As our Prime Minister puts his weight behind employee engagement, and struggles to bring his vision of a Big Society to life he would do well to reflect on Robert Owen’s work.

Indeed you could say the same for our business leaders as they bring their organisations through this economic crisis, and prepare them for growth.

These leaders are demanding more innovation, more productivity and more discretionary effort from their employee. They would do well to think back to Robert Owen and ask themselves what they are offering in return?

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Employee Engagement and the Big Society http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/2011/03/30/employee-engagement-and-the-big-society/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/2011/03/30/employee-engagement-and-the-big-society/#comments Wed, 30 Mar 2011 14:19:34 +0000 Scott McKenzie http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/?p=324

The Prime Minister launched his Employee Engagement Taskforce yesterday.

He even managed to make a fairly explicit link with his “Big Society” agenda – “This initiative fits well with our agenda of devolved power and authority”…

This should be exciting. After all having a senior sponsor like Dave will surely help raise the importance of engaging employees in workplaces across the UK. Right?

So why am I a feeling a bit underwhelmed? Maybe it’s because we have been here before. Indeed with the very same authors.

I like David MacLeod - he is a passionate advocate of employee engagement and has done more than most to put it on the agenda of Chief Executives. Much of what was in his original report should be regarded as best practice. But has it really had the impact it originally promised?

I am also concerned that the rhetoric being used here is… well a wee bit fluffy… For example, I don’t think our agenda here is really about “coming up with new approaches to help people improve [employees] wellbeing”.

It is actually much more hard-headed than that. It’s about connecting employees with the purpose of the organisation in a meaningful way. In other words if I believe in what I’m doing, and see how it fits into the organisation’s objectives, then I’m far more likely to be productive.

So it’s far more about the bottom line than making people feel happy.

P.S. – I see a lot of HR Directors in the list of taskforce participants… it would be disappointing if once again Communications had been over-looked as a critical stakeholder…

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