How to boost employee satisfaction

Seven tips for improving employee engagement through leadership

It is widely acknowledged that an engaged workforce can increase innovation, productivity and bottom line performance while reducing costs related to recruitment. The overall working environment and wellbeing of employees is also enhanced in highly engaged organisations.

However, in a recent study¹ 52% of employees felt their boss could do more to appreciate them.

The same survey also showed that 72% felt that motivation and morale would improve if managers thanked them more and noticed their good work.

How satisfied are your employees?  How often do you recognise their efforts?

We identify seven tips below for helping to boost employee satisfaction and team engagement – a few of these will require financial investment but the majority merely demand a flexible approach and attitude and possibly changes in your behaviour as a manager.

Seven tips to boost employee satisfaction

  • Say ‘thank you’

It costs nothing to recognise what your line report has achieved by thanking them, but it means a lot to them. Your regular 1:1 meetings provide an ideal opportunity to acknowledge their efforts, but the occasional genuine ‘thank you’ in front of the rest of the team or at their desk at the end of the day will be well received too.

Organising a team-building event or social activity to show your appreciation for the team’s hard work at the end of the financial year or after a particularly busy period also helps to boost morale.

  • Display your commitment to the organisation

It may seem bizarre, but having a manager who has a clear vision of where the organisation is going and who is visibly committed to working to make it succeed is very inspiring for those around them. There’s nothing more deflating than reporting to someone who doesn’t seem to be onboard with the organisation’s mission, vision and values, as team members can feel they are out on a limb and fighting against the tide.

  • Show empathy

Employees respond favourably when their manager is empathetic and supportive. This may be when they are experiencing a particularly trying time – in or out of work. It could, however, just be on a regular basis by acknowledging workload, schedules, internal tensions. A supportive manager who treats their staff fairly and with respect will be rewarded with a committed, happy team.

  • Involve your team in decision-making

Consult with your team members about important decisions. They may have great ideas or insight. In any case, they will feel valued to have been involved and even if their opinion may not have a direct bearing on the final decision, you’ll be much better positioned to handle the outcome if you know how they feel.

Regular communication that clarifies the position rather than leaving your employees to listen to office gossip goes a long way to engendering trust and confidence in a manager, particularly if you have line reports who resist change.

  • Discuss training and development needs

In the CIPD’s Autumn 2016 Employee Outlook² 24% of employees were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the opportunity to develop their skills in their job. To know that their manager supports their learning and development and that the organisation is prepared to invest in training for them is encouraging for employees.

However, it should not just stop at your staff. Managers, themselves, should be open to self-reflection and be willing to seek and receive feedback on their people management skills. Many managers are highly skilled and technically qualified and have been promoted into their roles of managing people due to hard work and success, but they have not received any formal training in people management skills. In fact, 53% of respondents to a CIPD study³ described their people skills as ‘ineffective’, despite scoring highly on technical ability, budgeting and financial management.

If you are prepared to develop your own leadership skills, you’ll become more confident in handling your people and gain skills to help boost employee satisfaction.

  • Introduce an employee feedback process

The level and frequency of feedback will vary dependent upon the size of your organisation. Be it a box to enable employees to anonymously ‘post’ comments, a quarterly employee forum attended by a representative from each department and a director or an annual employee satisfaction survey –  the most important aspect is that the leaders of the organisation are seen to be behind the project, that they regularly communicate what is happening and that action is taken from the employee feedback.

Often, what is important to your people is something that you would least suspect and can be resolved quite easily and inexpensively, but which gives a boost to employee satisfaction.

  • Implement a peer to peer recognition scheme

While recognition from a line manager is essential for an employee to feel engaged in their role, recognition from colleagues can deliver a huge boost in satisfaction levels too. A manager/director from another department in the organisation who is impressed by an employee’s efforts or a peer in the team who is grateful for their colleague’s support during a frantic period – either way, if the employee receives a ‘thank you’ card, it is very inspiring that their hard work has been acknowledged.

If the scheme allows for a small monetary reward in the form of a gift card, product discount or the ability to leave the office a couple of hours early, so much the better, however, this is not essential. It’s the public appreciation of what’s been done that creates the wellbeing factor.


¹A study by Reward Gateway of 500 employees and 500 senior decision makers

² CIPD’s Autumn 2016 Employee Outlook

³ CIPD data published in January this year

Our Top Five Time Management Tips

How to ensure you maintain focus on the most valuable tasks

If you are like me, there are never enough hours in the day to complete everything on the ‘To Do List’. When you’ve had a particularly disrupted day, have you ever found yourself adding something to the list at the end of the day just so you have the satisfaction of crossing one task off? We can easily find ourselves too entrenched in everyday operations to realise that the key resources of our people and our time are being under-utilised.

So, how can you be more productive and efficient? Below we list our top five Time Management tips which will help you feel more in control of your time and improve your work life balance. If you are a manager of people, you should also find increased engagement across your team.

Our top five Time Management tips:

1.       Schedule your work

It may seem logical, but you know when you work the best. I am definitely at my sharpest and most productive in the mornings. I try to knuckle down and complete the biggest tasks before I take a break for lunch. Where possible, I try to avoid getting distracted by emails and social media alerts during this time, although that’s not always successful.

We suggest that you aim to start the day with a plan or list of what you’d like to achieve that day and allow time for interruptions and unexpected meetings, calls, etc. Keep the tasks that require the most concentration for when you work the best.

2.       Keep in mind your organisation’s mission and objectives

Our roles can be very complicated nowadays with the intrinsic ties to operating systems and technology, as well as the challenges of managing relationships with people within and outside of the organisation. It’s easy to get distracted with demands and deadlines and lose focus on the overall goals.

Your role and personal objectives will be aligned to your organisation’s mission and objectives. So, keep these in mind and you may need to reset your priorities from time to time to ensure you and your team keep focused on the key tasks to achieve these targets by half-year or year-end.

3.       Re-evaluate why you are employed

This is not as flippant as it may at first sound. Often our job within an organisation can be defined by just a few roles. These could be:

  • Leadership and management
  • Win new business
  • Product production
  • Distribution
  • Customer management
  • Quality control

Re-evaluating the purpose of your role and those of your team will help you sort the wheat from the chaff and enable you to prioritise those tasks and responsibilities that are most valuable to your organisation. The other things that you’ve been asked to do can then be pushed further down the list for a quieter time.

4.       Complete a value based prioritisation exercise

To make your time as significant as possible, we suggest completing at least one of the following exercises, but preferably both.

a)       How much is your time worth?

Time is money. Have you thought about the value of your time in relation to your earnings? By working out your worth per hour, you can decide how many multiples of an hour you think any given task or project is worth. Dedicate that number of hours to it, but no more.

b)      Defining importance and urgency

Often the most important and urgent tasks are the most daunting to us, so we procrastinate starting them. It’s easier to focus on lesser important things, as they are probably quicker and easier to do. By analysing the true urgency and importance to your organisation, you can prioritise what needs to be done in the short term and regularly:

–          Urgent is something that has an imminent deadline

–          Important is something that is of high value or impact in relation to your key roles and so will have a long-term effect on you, your department and your organisation.

With this categorisation in mind, you may wish to complete a prioritisation grid to re-allocate your attention to the high-value tasks and push the medium and lower value worth further down the priority list. The grid below is an example used by Impellus in its leadership and management training courses that enables delegates to identify the activities that have the highest percentage of worth and that they therefore need to do more of. Those with medium and low percentage worth can be done later, delegated or, potentially rejected.

Impellus Prioritisation Grid

5.       Delegate to maximise your time and empower your team

As a line manager you will understand the importance of delegation for you and your team’s personal development. Delegation is a key tool to increase employee engagement and motivation and is vital for empowering your line reports and developing their skills. It also frees up some of your time to concentrate on the most valuable activities that you have identified in your prioritisation grid (above).

If you’ve carried out steps 3 and 4 above, you will be confident of the most suitable people in your team for delegation. Initially you may need to steer, train or mentor them to get the job done, but in the long term greater trust will be instilled between you.

And, if you are not a line manager, our fifth tip is to you allow yourself some space and reflection time on a regular basis. It helps you keep things in perspective and will ensure you remain focused and sharp. The CIPD’s Employee Outlook Autumn 2016 shows that 38% of employees achieve the right balance between work and home life – which means that 62% don’t…..


‘I said I did not have time, but to what did I give the time, and was it a fair exchange?

Muriel Strode, My Little Book of Life, 1912

Eight Top Management Tips for Wellbeing in the Workplace

How to keep your team inspired throughout January

Motivating your team in the New Year pays dividends and may help with employee retention at a time when many will start their search for a new job.  Below we list our eight tips for winter wellbeing in the workplace.

We’re into the second working week of the year with ‘Blue Monday’ fast approaching. The festive celebrations are over, detox diets are already painful to keep up and credit card bills for Christmas and New Year excesses are hitting our pockets. January pay day seems a long way off and journeys to work are taking longer than normal due to tube/rail strikes and road accidents. Then there’s the persistent cold and cough that’s been doing the rounds.

The reality of the full year ahead begins to dawn……

Depending on your industry and business, January may be a very busy month that spurs your team into action immediately on their return to work. In other cases January may be quiet enabling a review of last year, planning for 2017 and six-monthly/annual appraisals to be conducted.

Either way, how do you inspire your team in the dark, cold days of January to ensure they remain productive, focused and on target to meet objectives?


Eight Top Tips for Winter Wellbeing in the Workplace

  • Counter negative news stories
    These will be in abundance in the press and on social media, but it is suggested you frame the New Year well by communicating the opportunities and challenges positively to your team rather than highlighting potential issues.
  • Engage with each member of your team
    Be mindful of the fact that your motivators are probably very different to those of each of your team. What are their daily rituals? Have they made any New Year resolutions?Some may well need a caffeine infusion to kick start their day while others may practice yoga before work and prefer a green tea. If any of your colleagues received Fitbits for Christmas, maybe suggest that a few of you take a brisk walk around the block at lunchtime. In fact, encouraging all your employees to go outside during daylight hours for at least a few minutes per day during the winter months is a good idea anyway.If you have team members located regionally and you are not able to meet all of them face to face in the month of January, make a point to talk to them regularly this month so you can assess how they are feeling and operating – a great tip for wellbeing in the workplace.
  • Plan a social event
    Arrange a get-together away from the office for early Spring. It’s great to have something in the calendar that will get the team socialising once the lighter days arrive. Try involving the whole team in choosing and booking the activity to gain maximum buy-in.
  • Team lunch/breakfast
    Organise a team lunch or breakfast in the office. It is good for team engagement and doesn’t have to cost the earth. You could even ask everyone in the team to contribute something, which ensures a great selection and all members feel involved.
  • Holiday bookings
    Encourage your team to book holidays. Apart from the obvious attraction of them having something to look forward to, it enables you to manage operations and workflow efficiently if absence is planned in advance. If your holiday year finishes on 31st March and the team has holiday entitlement to use up, you’ll be able to ensure sufficient cover in that month.
  • Personal development training
    Even if it is not appraisal time in your organisation, pick up with your team on their personal development aspirations, get them to identify suitable opportunities and book courses/seminars. Doing something different, meeting new people and focusing the mind are all actions that help with wellbeing in the workplace.
  • Focus on priorities
    Irrespective of how busy January is for your organisation, sitting down with your people and reaffirming priorities for the next few weeks is vital. Over the leisurely festive break, it is easy for us to forget the odd thing that came up in conversation just before Christmas and for you to lose track of workloads, so a recap of priorities and deadlines is a good thing for everyone.
  • Celebrate successes
    Last, but by no means least. Don’t wait for an annual awards ceremony to thank you people and celebrate team successes. Recognise and reward your team on a regular basis. This acknowledgement doesn’t have to be an expensive gift, just a verbal ‘thank you’ in front of the whole team goes down well.And, don’t restrict it to work related successes. Knowing your team well, you’ll be aware when one of them is successful out of work too. If the individual is happy for you to do so, share that with the rest of the team. It’s very inspirational and may encourage others to start something new this year, which can also help with work/life balance.

So, there you have it. Some great tips for wellbeing in the workplace. Here’s to a great year!

Snoring is heard around the room as you start slide three of your presentation……

Worried that your topic is perhaps too technical?


….. why not tell a story?


Storytelling techniques can be a more convincing and successful route of delivering information than just using facts.

The story doesn’t need to be of epic proportions. A precis that links facts together with an example or two can be most effective.

The Impellus’ learning and development consultants use the art of storytelling extensively in its Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) approved leadership and management training courses and report that:


  • Embellishes the training journey from start to finish
  • Whets the appetite of delegates to engage with the training content by bringing theoretical and scientific modules to life
  • Allows delegates to visualise how they can apply theory in their work situations
  • Can be positioned around aspects of data and theory that may otherwise be difficult to comprehend – facilitating delegate understanding
  • Enables delegates to connect thoughts and feelings to facts and theory. Delegates are highly likely to remember theory afterwards and embed it into their own skill-set and practices, if an emotional connection was established during the course
  • Empowers delegates to shape their future behaviours in a relevant and meaningful way.

Storytelling can certainly be a powerful, effective weapon in the armoury of a management trainer.

 “If you can’t explain it simply you don’t understand it well enough.”

Albert Einstein


Effective Communication Skills’ and ‘Delivering Presentations and Meetings’ open training courses are dlivered regularly by Impellus Ltd.

Carrot or stick? Towards or Away? Gain or Avoid? What goes wrong?

No, not a new word puzzle – but a valuable motivational tool in a manager’s armoury

When managing and appraising performance, it’s really helpful to understand what drives each individual member of your team.

You may well be motivated by the carrot. However, it’s unlikely that all your line reports will be the same. The stick will drive others …..

If you thrive on the ‘towards’ principle and use this to engage with a colleague who is motivated by ‘away’, you’ll get frustrated with the lack of action. Likewise your colleague who is driven by ‘avoidance’ rather than ‘gaining benefits’ will get disgruntled at your lack of empathy.

And don’t make the common mistake of thinking that all successful, positive individuals are motivated by the same things.

If we consider two very successful entrepreneurs, Sir Richard Branson and Lord Alan Sugar – the former is predominantly motivated by ‘towards’ being the first to try many business ventures and taking lots risks personally in global adventures.

Lord Alan Sugar on the other hand, has been driven by the ‘away’ principle – wanting to get away from his poor upbringing and have a better lifestyle initially and then from competitive companies/ products to maintain his edge.

Understanding the different drivers behind the carrot or stick approach will help you to unlock the secret of leveraging performance and enable the desired behaviours to be achieved.

Tony Robbins, life coach and author, gives an insight to this motivational technique in his book entitled ‘Unlimited Power: The New Science of Personal Achievement, as follows:

“All human behaviour revolves around the urge to gain pleasure or avoid pain.”

What you gain from getting this right

Spending time analysing ‘towards’ and ‘away from’ behaviours gives you and your team:

  • Greater production capabilities
  • More engaged and motivated staff
  • Fewer personnel issues
  • Increased average service length
  • Improved wellbeing and team spirit
  • Less stress!

The ‘carrot or stick’ principle is covered in more detail in NLP Meta-Programs which form the basis of several of the Impellus management training courses.

Once upon a time …..

… there was a land where the majority of business leaders were too consumed with statistical targets and missd the fairytale outcome …


Fancy a simple way to get the people in your organisation to achieve objectives? Tell them a story.


Don’t worry, we haven’t lost our marbles. Here’s proof:

  •  Advertisers have long since acknowledged the importance of storytelling when promoting brands
  •  Parents rely on storytelling to develop comprehension and learning
  •  Teachers value storytelling to kick-start creativity
  •  Even numbers-led investors like to know the story, right?

So, how come we forget about it in the workplace?

Managers spend a lot of time pouring over figures, defining statistical targets and communicating to their teams the numbers that are required to achieve business objectives.

Many fail to tell a story to demonstrate how they can all get there. They forget about enabling their people to visualise the journey and miss out on the benefits of getting their colleagues to FEEL a part of what they are doing.

A recent research study¹ indicates that storytelling is receiving increasing attention and suggests some of the ways it can be effective:

  • Building credibility and trust – reveal your humanity at work. Share stories of where you have grappled with difficult decisions or made errors
  • Developing a joint understanding of your organisation’s purpose and vision – are there stories that illustrate the strengths of your business and how it has adapted to earlier challenges?
  • Stimulating engagement and genuine commitment – share tangible stories of how the organisation is achieving its goals, how it makes a difference to real customers and how it accommodates the needs of employees
  • Managing change – have you read or heard about examples of change similar to those that you want to bring about? If they were successful, why? Would sharing these stories help alleviate fear or uncertainty?

Are you already ‘telling stories’ or are you a leader who has not yet recognised the strength of storytelling in motivating and engaging employees, especially when change in the workplace is required?

If so, try putting your story before your numbers and the fairytale ending is perhaps more likely to happen……..


¹ Roffey Park Institute has recently published research report entitled ‘The Leader as Storyteller’ citing more examples of how storytelling can help address many of today’s key leadership challenges.

Who’s coming up behind you to make you succeed or do you need a kick up the backside?

This week two young GB Paralympians will return to school after excelling at Rio 2016. They were both inspired to overcome their disabilities and enter competitive sport by watching their idols during London 2012.

Hannah Cockcroft was unbeaten in her T34 wheelchair field for seven years until she came up against Kare Adenegan in London last September.

Hannah’s shock defeat gave her (in her words) the kick up the backside that she needed ensure she trained harder for Rio 2016.

Going into the September 2015 race, Hannah acknowledges that she took it for granted she would keep winning. In Rio Hannah won all three of her races and fifteen year old Kare followed closely behind with one silver plus two bronze medals.

Ellie Robinson took up swimming after her namesake, Ellie Simmonds, became a medal winner and an ambassador for disability sport. Ellie Robinson competed several times alongside Ellie Simmonds and other world champions bringing home a gold and bronze medal.

How do you get your team to feel the energy and passion that Ellie R and Kare felt when watching London 2012?  Do you get on with your day job and take it for granted that you will stay ahead of the game?

Although Ellie Simmonds and Hannah Cockcroft are not ready to hand over their batons yet, leadership succession planning is clearly already in hand within Team GB to maintain world championship status when the time comes.

The questions this begs of you

Who’s coming up behind you and who’s ready to succeed in your position when you’re promoted? Are your leadership skills helping you put plans in place to ensure a competitor doesn’t steal that lead?

And perhaps more importantly…

If you have nobody coming up behind you to kick your backside from below and make your team succeed, are you going to have your backside kicked from some other place which will hurt you far more?

Our Organisational Leadership Skills and Managing Performance and Efficiency training courses equip managers with tools and skills for succession planning.


10 top tips to improve your staff appraisals

Do you love doing appraisals?

If not, it may be because you find them a little awkward and uncomfortable.  Not knowing what the employee is likely to say can lead you to be nervous of what issues might come up.  You may also be aware that you have to deliver news that the employee won’t be happy with and you will be worried about their reaction.

My first rule of appraisals is to separate them from pay discussions.  Read more

Leaders – The things you shouldn’t know…

Dear leader.  Please remember that you don’t know everything about the way your business is run.  The knowledge lies with the company as a whole.

So when you discuss issues with your senior team you should not be telling them what to do, because in their area of expertise they should be the expert – not you.

Take for example a situation I saw recently where a company had a sudden and urgent need to change a software platform.  Read more

6 steps to a great plan

It is remarkably common for businesses to organise an event or plan a process and find at the last minute that a major factor has been forgotten or missed in the planning process.  We all recognise that moment when people stand and stare, and think “oh how did we miss that!”.  Thorough planning involves more than a quick 5-minute meeting and a “let’s get on with it” rallying cry.  And yet when you are sitting in a room making decisions it is easy to miss those finer points unless you have a process to follow which will flush them out.

So how can you avoid this scenario? Read more