Rallying cry for Communicators

Two years on from the MacLeod Report, David MacLeod took to the stage at the Institute of Internal Communications’ (IoIC) annual conference on Friday to issue a rallying cry to Communicators to help shape the future.

Alongside Nita Clarke, David MacLeod was commissioned by the Department for Business (BIS) to take an in-depth look at employee engagement and to report on its potential benefits for organisations and employees. The research was conducted from October 2008 to May 2009 and included meetings with leaders, experts, practitioners and thought leaders.

The IoIC say the report put engagement at the forefront of the business agenda as for the first time compelling evidence was produced about how vital engagement is in improving the bottom line and as a route to business success.

IoIC conference
Updating Communicators on Friday, MacLeod outlined what engagement is and what it means for businesses. The focus appeared to have been sharpened to look at “what happens next” which he cited as better outcomes, higher levels of advocacy and innovation and better financial performance.

I thought I’d capture some of the thoughts he shared that struck me during his presentation, Twitter-style below. You can download his slides here

“The topic of engagement is like flypaper – everything can stick to it”

“Is this the end of them and us?”

“Alignment is knowing what to do and engagement is wanting to do it”

“Most strategies are far too complicated to get employees inspired”

“After difficult times we can emerge on our knees or in running shoes”

“I don’t know how any of us will survive unless we do new things, particularly after the recession”

Four enablers
MacLeod talked about the four attributes successful organisations have: Strategic narrative, Enabling managers, Employee voice and Integrity. If you want to find out more info, check out the video case studies on the businesslink website.

What’s next?
Looking back at the recession, MacLeod said there is a need for people to continue to work together to build a better future and revealed the following statistics from his research:

  • 59% of the ‘more engaged’ say work brings out their best ideas
  • 3% of the ‘less engaged’ say that work brings out their best ideas
  • 67% of the ‘more engaged’ advocate their organisation
  • 3% of the ‘less engaged’ advocate their organisation.

A rallying cry
MacLeod said that the next step in his research is a task force that he is setting up which includes practitioner groups. This is where you come in – can you help? I spoke with him after he spoke at the conference and discovered what he’s looking for: “I am appealing to Communicators to help us gather together fresh content – I’m looking for deep-seated insights and case studies into employee engagement in the workplace and the impact you are seeing within organisations”. Of particular importance are examples of innovative behaviour among employees and case studies with demonstrable results.

Do you have examples that could help shape what happens next in terms of research into employee engagement? You can contact David at: info@engagingforsuccess.com or david.macleod@dmacleod.co.uk

What are your thoughts around employee engagement? Have you read a good case study or have evidence you’re happy to share? Do get in touch with David if you can and are happy to help. It struck me from listening to him that the only way a clearer picture can be formed is by assembling all the different pieces from across the country.

Thanks for reading, Rachel.


  1. Doug Shaw says:

    An interesting write up thanks Rachel. I think UK plc needs something to snap it out of its torpor – it will be interesting to see if this could be it? The trick is perhaps convincing the world of business that the creativity it craves comes with disruption. We need to learn to be better at taking the mistakes on the chin and learning from them. Too often people in organisations punish mistakes which means folk quickly learn not to experiement.

    I’m going along to a meeting this Thursday with David MacLeod and others – will keep you posted.

  2. Rachel says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Doug, I particularly like your sentence about creativity and disruption. I hope this Thursday’s meeting goes well and you find it useful, Rachel

  3. David says:

    Good summary Rachel.
    I found David’s presentation thought provoking and it was good to see his openness about the challenges of measuring engagement.

    Although the debate about the existence and measurability of engagement continues, I do wonder if those more vociferous agitators are merely trying to differentiate their offer in an increasingly crowded comms market place. For me whether you call it engagement, mobilisation or a carrot, I remain convinced that ‘it’ adds value.

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