The UK’s Big Experiment: Can You Legislate Employee Engagement?

What does it take to move “employee engagement” from buzzword or annual survey exercise to actual workforce change?

Obviously, it requires investment and commitment at an organization level. But what could happen if that investment and commitment were made at a national level?

The UK is about to find out.

The Employee Engagement Task Force, which includes academics, consultants and research houses, is publishing the website providing advice, tools and networking opportunities to UK employers. The website will go live on 26 November and will be accompanied by a series of free workshops across the country.”

What Engagement Task Force Is offering

This is the culmination of years of work that began with the detailed MacLeod Report on Employee Engagement. Digging deeper into what’s coming, we can see the Employee Engagement Task Force is offering more than vague recommendations or ideas. They are also offering:

  1. Tools and resources;
  2. Opportunities for knowledge sharing and networking;
  3. Shareholder valuation.

This last point is particularly interesting. As far as I can tell at this stage, the Task Force is giving shareholders a reason to include employee engagement in how they value companies.

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The title of my post is a bit misleading. The UK government is not legislating employee engagement, but they are putting skin in the game to help employers figure out how to engage their employees to increase productivity and performance across organizations in the United Kingdom.

What impact do you think this is likely to have for UK businesses? For my American colleagues, how would you potentially see something similar playing out in the U.S.?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their company culture. As the Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek helps clients — including some of world’s most admired companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Intuit, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters — leverage recognition strategies and best practices to better manage company culture, elevate employee engagement, increase retention, and improve the bottom line. He's also a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Contact him at


1 Comment on “The UK’s Big Experiment: Can You Legislate Employee Engagement?

  1. Derek as a Brit in this field for decades, and one who lives in California most of the time, I think I can give some perspective on this:  it would never work in the US!!  Having said that, it is a great idea in the UK, where government is not seen as badly as it is here. I think the MacLeod report in 2009 turbo-charged the whole field in the UK and has had effects overseas too.  The UK was behind in the number of organizations which use these ideas at work, do surveys, etc. and needs to move ahead forcefully if it is to be globally competitive.  David MacLeod himself is a great leader and is generous with his time and support of others (he recently endorsed Cary Cooper’s and my new book and has shared over the phone many things which he is doing over there).

    In general terms its great to have a resource which isn’t trying to sell you anything, just there to give you information.  That is pretty rare in this field, and the fact that MacLeod has gathered the thought leaders to contribute to this effort is testament to the thoroughness of his approach.  I hope everyone who can will take advanage of this;  I am 100% in support, and grateful that UK taxpayers, stretched as they
    are, have paid for it.  Its an investment which will pay off many
    times over. 

    David Bowles, Ph.D.
    Co-author, The High Engagement Work Culture: Balancing ME and WE (Macmillan, 2012)

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