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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: Do Organisations Really Need a ‘Chief Happiness Officer’?

Marie Puybaraud, Global Head of Research at JLL, reports on the rising trend to appoint somebody in the role of ‘CHO’ or ‘Chief Happiness Officer.’ She suggests that “the CHO has the potential to boost employee performance and mental health, but this is not their fundamental purpose. CHO’s are focused on wellbeing in its widest sense as well as improving employees’ quality of life and making it possible for employees to be themselves at work. Their mission is to attract and retain talent while fostering employee engagement, empowerment and fulfilment in the organisation, and should not be seen as the sole solution to staff productivity. That said, if a business takes the role seriously and invests the right resources in the position, a CHO could have profoundly beneficial long-term effects on a company.”

She also says that “by investing into this new role, firms demonstrate that they fundamentally care about their employees.”

On the face of it, this is arguably all true. So why does it leave me feeling so uneasy?

Puybaraud is right to caution against seeing the CHO as the sole solution to staff productivity, but therein lies the risk. Historically, too many organisations have left the job of employee engagement in one pair of hands – often HR – but it is too important for that to be right. Raising our game on engagement is not a project with a number of activities to be managed and ticked off by one person or small team of people, however capable they are. It is a transformational strategy for changing the way an organisation delivers against its objectives.

It’s all very well to appoint another new role to take care of things – regardless of the job’s title – but it runs the serious risk of diminishing the importance of engagement as a transformational strategy and letting it fall by the wayside as managers throughout the organisations are tempted to ‘leave it to the CHO.’

I’m all for the idea of appointing inspirational leaders (I quite fancy being Chief Happiness Officer myself, it sounds like fun…) but we need to shift the focus on to how every manager in the organisation becomes an inspirational employee engager.

Steve Short – Emenex


Blog: Urgent – Skilled Glassblower Required

Growing up in a small fishing village I have always had a fascination with lighthouses as I could see the light as it scanned the horizon each night and hear the beat of the foghorn as it warned ships of impending danger.

When I was 8 years old I met my first ‘lighthouse child’, a new arrival at our school from a recent assignment in the Orkneys, Brian Wright introduced me to Orkney Fudge and went on to become our football team goalkeeper until his family moved on to another lighthouse after their 3 year assignment at St Abbs Head was completed.  We never kept in touch and I often wondered what became of Brian and his family as lighthouses shut down and a community of lighthouse keepers and their families diminished.

There have been a few reminders along the way, and I was drawn this week to an article on the BBC website of an Australian man who travels the world recovering optics from Lighthouses that are being dismantled and using them to repair Lighthouses that are being restored – in effect he runs a lighthouse wreckers yard.  His challenge is to find a glassblower that can produce glass of the quality that was used in the original Lighthouses. Read more.

Alistair Aitchison – Emenex


“Are employees getting what they need from their employers to when it comes to learning and performance management?”

This question was the starting point for Dipak Patel to uncover the gaps between perception and reality across different aspects of talent management. The results were interesting across the board, particularly those around employee learning and development.

80% of HR leaders believe training and development is effective at helping people acquire the skills they need to move their careers forward. When you add in the fact that 72% feel like their organisation provides employees with the ability to easily collaborate and participate in informal learning opportunities, it appears as though it’s smooth sailing.

However, employees don’t feel the same way – one third of employees (33%) reported that training and development programmes are ‘not too effective’ or ‘not at all effective’, and only 51% of employees agree that their organisation provides the right forums for collaboration.

Separately, Willis Towers Watson found (August) that almost a third of UK employers (29%) reported rising rates of employee turnover and that retaining high-potential employees and top performers is becoming increasingly challenging

Writing for Talent Journal, Patel presents clear ideas that talent leaders might consider to help achieve the balance between the needs of the business and the needs of people.


The Ten Biggest Misconceptions about Being a Leader

Without preparation or direction, many new managers default to stereotypical ways of running things – but rather than helping them lead their team, it can be counterproductive.

You’ve finally been given a promotion. All those years of slog and sucking-up have at last been recognised. There’s just one problem – you have absolutely no management training.

The thrill of a hard-won pay rise can quickly evaporate if your organisation drops you in to a new, stretching role, wishes you luck, and sends you on your way.

Co-authors Professor Sir Cary Cooper, University of Manchester and president of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and Stefan Stern helpfully unravel some pervasive myths around leadership.


How to Tell Your Boss That You’re Not Engaged at Work

Many people think of employee engagement as a relatively new idea, but scientists have been studying it for years. William Kahn first introduced the term in 1990, defining it as “the degree of psychological identification employees experience with their job role or work persona.” He noticed that organizations tended to overlook the influence that everyday experiences have on people’s work motivation, focusing instead on their talents, skills, and expertise. Although such qualities are no doubt critical, they are not sufficient to account for the wide range of subjective experiences employees have at work.

One of the main drivers of employee disengagement is bad leadership, which on its own can be expected to account for as much as 30% of the variability in engagement levels. However, leaders are often unaware of this, not least because upward negative feedback is rare.

To address this issue, here, from Harvard Business Review, are ways you may want to communicate your dissatisfaction with work, in the hope that your manager may be able (and willing) to help.


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