The Need for Employee Engagement

Eric Collins, Managing Director of Nampak Plastics, explains the importance of employee engagement in an organisation and discusses how this can lead to greater innovation. 

In the UK’s fast-developing industries, the need to evolve is key to the success of every organisation. Innovation in a company’s product offering is only the very tip of the iceberg, to compete today businesses need to be pioneering in everything they do, including engaging with their colleagues.

On becoming the Managing Director of Nampak Plastics, I wanted to lead and inspire culture change in the company and one of my biggest objectives was to increase our colleague engagement. I believe that employee engagement is at the heart of a whole range of business benefits and has concrete outputs in terms of productivity, retention and innovation. For both employees and employers, high workforce engagement is undoubtedly a ‘win-win’. 

‘Engage for Success’ is the campaign promoting workplace approaches that ensure employees are committed to their organisations goals whilst also enhancing their own sense of well being. Campaigners across Britain are calling for every leader to play their part in tackling the UK’s employee engagement deficit, which is estimated to be costing us all £26bn in productivity each year. 

With this in mind, Nampak introduced a new ethos to encourage engagement and ideas at all levels of the company. We brought in behavioural training to teach these crucial qualities to colleagues and empower them to make decisions. Simple tactics like an ‘Employee of the Month’ scheme and annual Excellence Awards made everyone feel like they were valued members of the company and helped create a sense of collaboration and common purpose. 

Our starting point was a survey among our staff in 2007, which found that 80% would not recommend Nampak as a great place to work to their family and friends. 

However, the initiatives introduced have paid off in a very tangible sense. A survey among staff carried out in 2010, identical to the one three years earlier, found that 80% of the company would recommend Nampak as a great place to work.

Better still, my conviction that greater employee engagement, and empowering staff at all levels, would bring dividends in terms of product innovation was proved correct. In 2012 Nampak introduced the Infini HDPE milk bottle – the lightest, strongest bottle on the market which recently got as light as 32g for the four-pint version. The bottle represents a 20% material saving on the standard version found in most supermarkets today (which weighs 40g).

The Infini bottle is a game-changer in its market, and I don’t believe it would have come about if it weren’t for our newly engaged workforce, which was encouraged to speak up, be creative and most importantly to really care about the future of the company they choose to be employed by.

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