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Every two weeks we bring you opinion, news and research on Employee Engagement, Leadership and Organisational Performance, along with some thoughts on practical workplace applications.


Editorial: The Power of Experience

Psychologist Professor Thomas Gilovich conducted some research, which showed that when people purchase a physical item, their satisfaction with it decreases over time; but when they invest in an experience, their satisfaction goes up over time.

It’s fascinating research (more here) and gives support to something we intuitively know to be true: getting full commitment from employees involves more than simply giving perks and tangible rewards.

Gilovich explains, “People often think spending money on an experience is not as wise an investment as spending it on a material possession. They think the experience will come and go in a flash, and they’ll be left with little compared to owning an item. But in reality we remember experiences long afterward, while we soon become used to our possessions. At the same time, we also enjoy the anticipation of having an experience more than the anticipation of owning a possession.”

Recently the focus on employee engagement has shifted from ‘engagement’ to ‘experience’, and Gilovich’s research gives scientific backing to that change. But let’s be careful not to turn the anticipation of experience into a commodity that loses its allure; line managers (at all levels of seniority) have a clear responsibility to make their employee experience positive, right at the local level. Those that take that seriously will provide the everyday experiences that employees will remember over time, and both they and their organisations will reap the rewards from it.

Steve Short – Emenex


Addressing the Future of Work – What Can We Learn From Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA?

Matthew Taylor is a keynote speaker at this year’s Engage for Success Conference, 22 March 2018.

Hardly a day goes by now, without the future of work featuring in some media content or other.  There is so much to think about: technology (think Automation, Artificial Intelligence, and Robotics) replacing humans, the rise of self-employment, the rise of the gig economy, changing attitudes towards working amongst younger cohorts, inter-generational working, job precocity; the list is endless and can feel pretty overwhelming.

For those of us – like Cat Barnard here of Engage for Success – interested in and invigorated by the topic of employee engagement, it can sometimes seem hard to imagine how we continue to promote engagement when the odds seem increasingly stacked against creating working environments where workers feel safe, secure and valued enough to be able to flourish.

It’s for this reason that she is particularly looking forward to hearing Matthew Taylor speak at the Engage for Success conference in London next month.  Last year, Matthew, who is Chief Executive at the Royal Society of Arts, was commissioned by UK Government to undertake an independent review of modern work practices with a view to promoting good and fair work for all.  More details here.


South Koreans Increasingly Doubtful That Hard Work Pays Off

With the backdrop of the Winter Olympics, Gallup reports that South Koreans’ failing belief in the value of hard work in recent years could hurt efforts to motivate workers in a country currently struggling with low employee engagement and productivity. Since peaking at 73% in 2010, the percentage of South Koreans who feel people in their country can get ahead by working hard has drifted steadily downward. Less than half (47%) now feel this way. Further, South Koreans are now just as likely to disagree with this statement as they are to agree with it.

In their piece, Gallup examines many contributing factors and provides another opportunity to access their State of the Global Workplace report.


What’s the Key to Keeping Your Best Talent?

For any business, ensuring that you keep hold of your most talented members of staff in an often increasingly competitive job market can be the difference between sustained success and the possibility of stagnating or going backwards, writes Stuart Hodge for Business Chief.

Indeed, a recent Willis Towers Watson study showed that more than half of all organizations globally have difficulty retaining some of their most valued employee groups and that more than a quarter of employees are considered ‘high-risk’ for turnover.

Most scholars would agree that motivation is at the heart of keeping a workforce happy and, according to a recent report by Forbes, establishing an emotional connection with staff is the key to ensuring a cohesive and inclusive culture around the company.

The Forbes study asked HR professionals what their biggest challenges are related to corporate culture and they said overwhelmingly that creating a cohesive culture (55%) and retaining talent (41%) gave them the most concern.

The full story here, with a good deal of comment from business leaders.


Case Study: HMRC – Engaging a Geographically Dispersed Team

How do you create and build an engaged team of colleagues when they are spread over 68 different locations? HMRC faced this challenge when four years ago it created its new ‘pop-up’ Counter-Avoidance Directorate, comprising 1,500 staff across the country of different backgrounds, grades and levels of experience, and with a remit to deliver at pace while under intense media spotlight to show results.

Assistant Director Lesley Dooley MBE explains, “The speed of creation meant we needed to swiftly engage our staff and bring them on board while all were finding our feet. Senior leaders were liaising with ministers about financial tax recovery targets and policy initiatives to drive down avoidance, meanwhile we had no processes and all were on a steep learning curve. If we didn’t gel quickly and work together we were in danger of falling behind. We needed everyone’s perspective on what was working well, what wasn’t working well and how we could improve.”

Case study in full is here.


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