Drilling down into employee engagement at the CIPD Annual Conference

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On the 4th and 5th November, stand E110 at the CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition in Manchester was abuzz with Thomas talk.

With a focus on future-proofing organisations through innovation and engagement, we showcased the gamification of assessments, cutting-edge solutions and Engage, our employee engagement survey. We were delighted to host a free learning session on day two of the conference, on the topic of engagement.

Our guest blogger, from the Thomas training team, shares his experience of drilling down into employee engagement at CIPD 2015.

My CIPD experience began back in July when, as a 2015 exhibitor, Thomas were offered the chance to apply for a showcase workshop. Having attended the exhibition in Olympia in 2014, I was acutely aware of the importance of this event and therefore immediately asked to be involved. At the time, Thomas had just completed a series of 12 exclusive client workshops across the country on the power of employee engagement, where we spoke to over 300 delegates about the seven drivers of employee engagement, for which, I had researched and written the material.

During the process we decided to partner with Dr Mark Slaski, a human behavioural psychologist and expert in employee engagement, which meant our workshop would benefit from an insight into his extensive research and conclusions on the topic. Mark’s organisation, WorkplaceBuzz, are a Thomas partner, having researched and developed Engage, our employee engagement survey.

Although Mark’s involvement brought extensive knowledge to our session, it did add a challenge to my experience. I am experienced with public speaking but in an open public environment, with another person and with a strict time limit of 30 minutes, I was pushed slightly out of my comfort zone. However, I was happy to accept this challenge and drive the project forward.

Mark and I worked together throughout the process, from writing and preparing our presentation, to practising and delivering the session. We developed a strong working relationship, leading to a sense of togetherness as we collaborated in defining our objectives, sharing knowledge and experience and listening to each other’s views and opinions.

Prior to our slot, I sat and listened to the speaker directly before us – I find it beneficial to experience what your audience have been through prior to listening to you, to get a sense of their engagement in the speaker and their possible expectations from you. Shortly before our 2pm start, we had a briefing from the CIPD where they gave us clarity about what we were about to do, the rules and importantly the timing.

At 2pm I began, "Good afternoon Manchester..."

There were approximately 150 people sitting and standing around the 50 seat capacity arena, listening to Mark and myself. It was a success and we met our objectives of delivering all the key messages in the time allowed.

When I reflect on my experience, it really cements my belief in what I was talking about on the day. I can see all the seven drivers of engagement, the focus of our presentation, flourishing throughout the project. These are:

I had a voice in the planning and preparation of the project as I shared my proposal for the session. I felt a sense of togetherness with our marketing team and Mark as we planned and prepared for the slot. I had clarity from the CIPD as to the expectations and objective from the session. I was challenged by stepping out of my comfort zone to co-deliver a presentation in my area of expertise. I had freedom in the design and delivery of the project. I was recognised for the success of the project from my colleagues and from the delegates.

What about growth? The personal growth I have gained from this experience will be hugely beneficial for me as I move forward. I’ve grown my depth of understanding on how you achieve full engagement from your people. The whole experience has given me new knowledge on the policies, process and systems you need to have in order to facilitate the engagement drivers, as well as the importance of skilled people managers to make it happen. By engaging with all seven drivers, I was able to execute and enjoy the project, becoming fully engaged throughout. If one of the drivers had been absent, my engagement with the project, and therefore its success, would undoubtedly have been far less.

Lastly, I’d like to thank the CIPD for this opportunity. If you get the chance to speak at the CIPD conference, or one similar, then I suggest you grab it with both hands and get engaged!