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INVEST IN ENGAGEMENT AND SEE PRODUCTIVITY RISE

Employee engagement is not just an optional extra, but should be a critical part of an organisation’s strategy, says Mark Scanlon, chief executive of Personal Group.

16th May 2017

Our culture has become more one of innovation and change, with people having more time to be creative by spending less time doing repetitive tasks.

MARK SCANLON, PERSONAL GROUP

Personal Group has always been curious about the connection between happy and engaged employees and their influence on productivity and business performance.

This began when looking at the UK economy. Unemployment is the lowest it’s been for a decade and yet productivity remains flat.

This led us to reflect on our own experience in our business, which is contrary to what is happening in the UK. Our headcount has remained reasonably consistent with the growth of our business, but we have seen significant productivity improvements.

Over the last five years, we’ve invested heavily in technology, business improvement projects and acquisitions that injected energy and positive change into the business; the effect of this is a highly engaged workforce.

Each year, we measure the engagement of our employees through our annual survey and this has increased year after year, way above industry norms. At the same time, we are seeing improvements in other key measures: our field team’s productivity improved by 20 per cent and we saw a 30 per cent improvement in the cost of business acquisition; operationally, we became more effective and drove efficiencies in our company that led to a better customer experience such as 80 per cent of our insurance claims being paid within 24-48 hours; our complaint volumes fell by two-thirds and the attrition in our field sales team fell by 50 per cent, while 10 per cent of our employee workforce were promoted in the same period.

In each area of our business, we saw a form of improvement across a range of productivity measures. The culture has become more one of innovation and change, with people having more time to be creative by spending less time doing repetitive tasks that we were able to remove by automating and simplifying processes. The outcome of all of this is a highly engaged and productive team.

This is not my first experience of engaged and productive teams. In my last role, we experienced a very similar effect in winning business where we ordinarily would have had limited opportunity. But due to our people who invested personally – whether it was making tea, writing supporting documents, couriering tenders – everyone played their part.

There’s no question that without everyone playing their part, we would not have won the business that catapulted our company forward. Both experiences past and present, are as a result of what we at Personal Group refer to as employees’ “unlocking their discretionary effort”.

Our interest in the subject of productivity led us to collaborate with Criticaleye and Debi O’Donovan (Founder of Reward and Employee Benefits Association) to conduct a series of 10 interviews with CEO’s and senior leaders across the UK economy. The purpose was to see if these leaders shared our view that productivity and employee engagement are linked. The response was heartening. It is clear from our research that some of the most progressive leaders in the UK economy fervently agree that an engaged workforce is a more productive workforce and this is clearly demonstrated by the stories they tell.
 

The Business of Engagement: Improving Productivity Through People provides insights from business leaders on both the various benefits of employee engagement and the ways to increase engagement. 

Our culture has become more one of innovation and change, with people having more time to be creative by spending less time doing repetitive tasks.

MARK SCANLON, PERSONAL GROUP

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