Employers vow to listen to their staffEmployers vow to listen to their staff

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SOME of Yorkshire's biggest employers have pledged to find more effective ways of listening to their staff.

Representatives from Leeds City Council, Huddersfield-based incident management company FMG Support and Leeds-based internet and telephone bank First Direct were among the participants in an Employee Engagement Workshop, which was organised by the City Region Employer Coalition.

The workshop, which was held in Leeds, aimed to highlight the most effective ways of ensuring staff were able to have a say in how their organisation was run. The participants said forums, focus groups and surveys had a role to play in employee engagement, but it was also important to reward good behaviour.

Sarah Cliff, a people experience specialist at First Direct, said: "You know when recognition is sincere. We have 'thank you' cards – it's a very small tool but it creates a buzz."

Vicky Hill, the head of human resources at FMG Support, added: "Focus groups are only as good as the information you get out of people. There has got to be a focus. If you do them too regularly, you lose that focus."

Ms Hill said that good managers had the ability to "create an emotional bank account" which helped to make staff trust them and work harder.

Veronicka Dancer, who is a senior figure in the human resources department at Leeds City Council, said effective employee engagement was particularly important across council departments.

Donna Gooby, the director of diversity and human resources policy at Community Links, a provider of mental health services, said leaders at all levels had to show a real interest in what motivates and interests staff.

Sue Carr, HR director at St Anne's Community Services, which helps people who need a range of support services, said good employee engagement could improve the quality of care offered to the 5,000 clients supported by the organisation each year.