UK's Engage for Success Initiative Moves Forward Despite Brexit
Although it was founded shortly after the Enterprise Engagement Alliance, the United Kingdom’s Engage for Success initiative has a significant advantage: it was created in part with the support of the government of Prime Minister David Cameron, who took a personal interest in the movement. (See ESM, “David MacLeod Explains Why Britain’s Engage for Success Movement Has Taken Hold.”)
Today, Engage for Success has evolved into an independent organization affiliated with the U.K.’s Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD), the country’s largest formal human resources organization. In a recent interview, co-founder David Macleod and Executive Director Cathy Brown note that the resignation of David Cameron in the wake of the Brexit vote has had little impact on the Engage for Success movement, which already was functioning independently of the government. In fact, they believe the new association with the CIPD has put Engage for Success on an even more sound footing.
“Everybody has seen this as a positive move,” explains Brown. “We remain two separate organizations, because the CIPD is an institution, and Engage for Success is a movement. The CIPD CEO is now our chairman, and it has made a big donation that will go into research and supporting our volunteer network…Our strength is crowd-sourcing, creativity. They are an established organization. Bringing the two arms together helps us both.”
Macleod says he is extremely pleased by the movement’s progress over the last four or five years. “The Engage for Success Task Force has been extremely well supported and has been meeting regularly over the last five years. The website has continued to grow and has now received over one million hits, and our funding model has evolved so we can concentrate on the voluntary things we do well and have sufficient resources to go to the next level in this journey. In the end, we hope to see businesses put people issues at the same level of importance as company strategy and finance. A fundamental question each company has to ask is: Do we have the appropriate culture and levels of employee engagement to deliver the strategy?”
According to Macleod, “In the end it is our people who have to respond to headwinds in the economy or competitive challenges by being more innovative, more efficient, by giving outstanding customer service and by developing new markets. So what we need to do is ensure that people in our organizations share the same jointly held aspiration for the organization and concern for each other’s well-being. Recent business scandals have highlighted the importance of positive and open organizational cultures where 'employee voice' is very much valued and open. There is a new desire to bring humanity back to business and to focus on people. Recent the votes in both the U.K. and the U.S. have reminded us that people should never be taken for granted.”
Engage for Success seeks to influence government policy and contribute to the development of a formal industrial strategy at the highest level. “The key difference now,” explains Brown, “is our ability to do that with strategic partners, the CIPD, but also the Trade Union Congress and Confederation of Business Industry. The key is to have an industrial policy that includes people.”
Among its other activities, Engage for Success has become involved with the U.K.’s 260 Technical Advisory Group, which is creating standards in the human capital arena. It will also be involved in process to create ISO standards for engagement. (See ESM article, “ISO Engagement Standards, Part I”)
The ambitions for Engage for Success do not stop at influencing government and business leaders. The organization is creating a grass roots strategy as well, says Brown. “We believe employees have a right to good management. We have already connected at the high levels; our goal now is to get out to our people with a message that asks them: ‘How do I become a better manager? How do I take personal responsibility?’ Management has traditionally looked at engagement as something we do to people. It’s not uni-dimensional. It’s a two-way street. We’re reaching out, giving people hope that there’s a better way to prosper. All of our concepts are free of charge.” In many respects, says Brow, “our major job today is about marketing this concept to the broadest possible audience.” And with a distinguished career in the U.K. advertising business, Maccloud comes to the task with the background needed to get the message out.