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Why Norfolk needs to be engaged

PUBLISHED: 06:28 24 May 2019 | UPDATED: 06:28 24 May 2019

Cassandra Andrews and Brian Bush are partners in Engaging Norfolk  Picture: Adam Barnes

Cassandra Andrews and Brian Bush are partners in Engaging Norfolk Picture: Adam Barnes

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Businesses with high levels of employee engagement are more efficient and effective - that's the message from Engaging Norfolk, a movement of like-minded business people sharing best practice across the county.

Attendees at the Engaging Norfolk event held in May at Birketts' Norwich offices  Picture: Adam BarnesAttendees at the Engaging Norfolk event held in May at Birketts' Norwich offices Picture: Adam Barnes

In 2009 a report was requested by the Secretary of State for Business to take an in-depth look at employee engagement and to report on its potential benefits for companies, organisations and individual employees.

The subsequent report, known as the Macleod Report, was published and concluded that, if employee engagement and the principles that lie behind it were more widely understood, if good practice was more widely shared, if the potential that resides in the country's workforce was more fully unleashed, we could see a step change in workplace performance and in employee well-being, for the considerable benefit of UK plc.

From this report, co-author David MacLeod OBE created Engage for Success - a dynamic and voluntary movement organisation to promote employee engagement as a better way to work.

So what is employee engagement?

The report identified four enablers of engagement:

n Visible empowering leadership providing a strong strategic narrative about the organisation, where it's come from and where it's going.

n Engaging managers who focus their people - coaching and treating them as individuals.

n Employee voice throughout the organisation which respects employees' views and ensures problems are swiftly dealt with.

n Organisational integrity where the values on the wall are reflected in day to day behaviours.

How can this knowledge benefit business?

Some of the findings point towards a deeper commitment from employees, including reduced leave and sickness absence, reduction in conflict and grievance, less accidents and subsequent increase in productivity and therefore profit.

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The business would be improved by employees driving increased creativity, developing knowledge to improve customer service and product innovation. A business behaving with integrity, inline with its own company values, promotes trust with the market place and embeds a culture of authenticity throughout the workforce.

Happy and motivated people produce better outcomes and enjoy it more when they do so - happy engaged people in a happy place to work. This also relates in the culture that is developed, providing a more attractive workplace for new potential employees.

Great knowledge and detail, but what about businesses here in Norfolk?

Locally-based employee engagement specialist Cassandra Andrews picked up the challenge to engage Norfolk. Cassandra was driven to start addressing the skills gap and to understand how to retain and attract talent.

She started by asking a number of key questions: How an employer located in a region with an above average ageing population could attract and retain the talented workforce needed? Was Norfolk offering millennials what they wanted? Was business focussed on profits or process but not people? Why did Norfolk talent go elsewhere? Were students studying here in Norfolk then heading off to work elsewhere?

"We want everyone working in Norfolk to want, and be able, to give their best each day, so that each day is a great day at work, and that workplaces in Norfolk are thriving, growing and developing through the commitment, energy and creativity of the people that work in them," says Cassandra.

Cassandra decided to kick start an Engaging Norfolk movement with the full support of Engage for Success, aiming to promote practical shared learning and insights between Norfolk businesses.

Approaching local organisations for support, Cassandra was pleased to align aspiration with leading employers Birketts LLP and Pure Resourcing. Soon to follow was Norfolk Chamber of Commerce. The launch event was held on Norfolk Day, July 27, 2018 at Birketts offices in Norwich, with David MacLeod OBE as the keynote speaker.

There have since been three more events, the most recent of which was held yesterday at Birketts' offices in Norwich, and discussed the importance of employee voice.

Cassandra has also been joined by Brian Bush as a partner in the Engaging Norfolk movement. "Business is all about people as employees and customers," he says. "In my experience, organisations can often spend on recruitment and not development, but through a determined culture all can align to be led by inspirational leaders.

"I was born in Norfolk and have worked and lived across the UK, but this is still the best county I have seen. We have a beautiful landscape around us and we must ensure that this is not the only narrative for attracting talent and business inwards. Norfolk has developed exciting, innovating and world leading business across multiple sectors and we do not always shout loudly enough about the amazing ecosystem that exists here."

Cassandra and Brian are organising a roadshow of events across the whole of the county over the next six months, scheduled for Great Yarmouth, King's Lynn, Cromer, Thetford, Fakenham and Diss. They are resolute that Engaging Norfolk is about supporting and educating all Norfolk businesses so that the whole county is a really great place to work.

Engaging Norfolk will also be speaking at the Norfolk Enterprise Festival and exhibiting at the Royal Norfolk Show.

Join the conversation on Twitter @engagingnorfolk or to be kept up to date with events visit www.engagingnorfolk.org

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