How to create an engaged workforce


Susie Schofield writes: In this three-part series, we speak to Jo Causon, Chief Executive of the Institute of Customer Service, the independent, professional membership body for customer service. The Institute is a recent client of FJ Wilson Talent Services (FJWTS).

Jo has been CEO of the Institute since 2009 and in that time has driven membership growth by 150% and established the UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) as the country’s premier indicator of consumer satisfaction.Jo Causon

As we’ve seen in the previous post, organisations that have high performing, empathetic employees reap better customer service satisfaction scores. Jo says ‘the link between customer and employee engagement needs to be seen not just as a survey or action plan, but as a vital business discipline’.

Strategies to develop employees begin with recruitment and extend to informal and formal development.[1]

So, how do we find candidates who will form our engaged workforce?

First steps

Jo advises a get back to basics strategy: ‘organisations need to be really clear about their purpose and relevance and what they’re trying to do’. She advises CEOs, Boards and team leaders to ask themselves such questions as:

  • ‘How do you position your company?’
  • ‘Do you lead from the front?’
  • ‘Do you talk about the organisation?’

Use platforms such as LinkedIn, plus media, word-of-mouth to talk about your organisation. Jo recommends that senior managers ‘create a real interest in your brand. If you do this you’re more likely to attract the right people.’

How to find committed workers

Jo warns that ‘organisations under-estimate the time it takes to recruit – and it’s one of the most important aspects we do.’

Senior managers ‘need to spend real-time thinking about who they want to employ – it’s not just skills. We need to identify the attitudes, behaviour and desire and balance them against the skills set:

Where you’re able to recruit someone committed to purpose and direction of the organisation – rather than someone to “do just a job” — you hit the perfect sweet spot. You need employees who go the extra mile because they intrinsically believe in what the organisation is doing…they feel the purpose and wish to deliver to it, they are not just self-orientated…it is important to select and recruit the right people. Employees need to see that “my role makes a difference” to the organisation.

Managers’ commitment to the process

Jo always meets potential candidates: ‘For me, it’s really important that I show my level of commitment to the recruitment process’. A prospective employee needs to meet the leader of the organisation to gauge its culture.

‘Too many organisations are not honest about the internal environment in which they operate’ — which is why Jo suggests they should ‘be brutally honest about working at your organisation.

‘For example, there will be certain things that employees of an organisation will need to accept – if not, they’re not the right candidate.’

How to keep committed workers

The Institute has identified a trend to recruit primarily based on attitude and subsequently train for skill.[2]

Once you’ve found your perfect fit candidate for your organisation, Jo says, ‘in return, employers need to take their employees’ commitment and deliver on it by investing in employees to equip them with the right skills, development plans, and training’.

Along the way, consider implementing ‘recruit a friend’ schemes – these can reduce recruitment costs and are an easy way to identify like-minded but not the same employees – to avoid group think!

Commissioning recruitment consultancies and head-hunters

If you’re using recruitment consultancies or head-hunters to find new employees, Jo has a few tips to share: ‘There are activities that both the organisation and recruiter need to do. Employers typically don’t think enough up-front before briefing a recruiter about the personality traits that they’re looking for to help ensure a good, long-term cultural fit with the organisation’.

She adds that ‘recruiters need to “get” the culture of the organisation’. Jo recommends getting ‘as many key members of staff involved in the process’ as you can to provide candidates the opportunity to see ‘several levels of employees’.

‘Head-hunters really need to sell the organisation to the candidate effectively – as well as being able to sell the candidate to the organisation.’ Her view in this situation is that ‘taking the approach of I’ve hired you to find me relevant, fully engaged and enthused candidates who are a strong cultural fit. Don’t send me candidates who are not.’

And she adds ‘there are responsibilities incumbent on both sides of the recruiting/headhunting agency and employer relationship. The employer needs to be honest and the recruiting agency needs to invest time in understanding the employer.

‘It’s rather like a holiday rep – you want advice on a destination and you expect the rep to have been there and to be able to recommend the local bars, trips and restaurants. You expect the recruiting agency to know the CEO.’



[1] The Customer Knows: how employee engagement leads to greater customer satisfaction and loyalty, Institute of Customer Service, February 2017, p74)

[2] The Customer Knows, p74

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