Showcasing the Best of Welsh Business


Engaging Leadership: EFS Wales Conference 2020 in association with Business News Wales


Written by:

Barbara Chidgey


Engage for Success Wales




Engaging Leadership

(A series of five conversations which together explore engagement through the lens of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act [Wales])

Wales is the only country in the world to have legislated for the Wellbeing of Future Generations in 2015. As a result, it behoves all public service bodies in Wales to put wellbeing, in all its forms, at the centre of their decision making and to act for future impact as well as for the present.

In order to clarify the goals of the act, a national conversation was held across Wales, involving and engaging as many organisations, individuals, and community groups as possible. From this emerged the final articulation of “The Wales We Want”.

The defined wellbeing goals in the Act are:

  • A prosperous Wales
  • A resilient Wales
  • A healthier Wales
  • A more equal Wales
  • A Wales of cohesive communities
  • A Wales of vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language
  • A globally responsible Wales

Together these seven national well-being goals are intended to help all of us in Wales build “The Wales We Want” and to build better. The Act requires each public service body to demonstrate how they are meeting each of those goals; they are then held to account by the Commissioner for the Future Generations, Sophie Howe.

In her recent Ted talk, Sophie emphasised that it is essential to focus on the interconnections of the different aspects of wellbeing. All the goals interconnect, all impact on each other. For an organisation to deliver and to build better, she suggested “making wellbeing your metrics”. In other words, test everything your organisation does across the four pillars of wellbeing: Social, Economic, Environmental and Cultural.

I therefore propose we take this one step further. 2020 has brought to the fore all of our Welsh wellbeing goals, and some more than others. 2020 has also highlighted that to build better, central to this is that we need a thriving economy to provide jobs, reduce inequality, increase diversity and promote inclusion, improve health and lifelong learning, build resilience and cohesive communities and also, to use Sophie’s phrase to build “cleaner and greener” as we build better.

So, with no apologies, I offer a reframed picture of the goals of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, to one that puts a values-based economy at the centre, with each of the other six goals from the act being key values.

Such an approach:

  • Is inclusive of all sectors in Wales
  • Recognises the need for a vibrant economy so that we will then have a strong enough economy to do everything else we wish to do to support each other, including caring for our most vulnerable
  • Gives those in leadership roles a helpful route map for implementation
  • Provides, as previously stated, a common core seven metrics of success

To do this, and to do it well, I suggest that all organisations will need to emphasise and develop leadership (at all levels) – leadership that engages employees, helps skill them up and supports and promotes them to deliver on those success measurements which are built on each of the wellbeing goals. Engagement of employees is central to this kind of leadership.

Employee engagement is a workplace approach resulting in the right conditions for all members of an organisation to give of their best each day, committed to their organisation’s goals and values, motivated to contribute to organisational success, with an enhanced sense of their own well-being.

There are four enablers that underpin employee engagement, an approach developed by Engage for Success:

  • “Visible, empowering leadership providing a strong strategic narrativeabout the organisation, where it’s come from and where it’s going.
  • Engaging managerswho focus their people and give them scope, treat their people as individuals and coach and stretch their people.
  • Employee voicethroughout the organisations, for reinforcing and challenging views, between functions and externally. Employees are seen not as the problem, rather as central to the solution, to be involved, listened to, and invited to contribute their experience, expertise and ideas.
  • Organisational integrity– the values on the wall are reflected in day to day behaviours. There is no ‘say –do’ gap. Promises made and promises kept, or an explanation given as to why not.”

Why does employee engagement matter?

Importantly there is a direct correlation between levels of employee engagement and levels of productivity, revenue growth and net profit, employee turnover, customer satisfaction, innovation, efficiency and even Health & Safety.

Analysis of evidence shows:

  • only about one third of UK employees say they are actively engaged
  • 20 million workers are not delivering their full capability or realising their potential at work
  • 64% of people say they have more to offer in skills and talents than they are currently being asked to contribute at work

Employee engagement is very clearly not a “load of fluffy nonsense”! Instead, employee engagement is very clearly an area that needs prioritising by those in leadership roles; developing the skills and a focus on being successful “engaging leaders” who fully commit to, understand, and implement of each of the four enablers of engagement.

The 2020 Engage for Success Wales “Engaging Leadership” conference is exploring each of those enablers of employee engagement in a way that has huge relevance within Wales. We are viewing them through the lens of the wellbeing goals of Wales, as identified in the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (Wales) 2015.

The five individual conversations with diverse individuals will build the links between:

  • leadership and employee engagement
  • leadership and delivering on the wellbeing goals
  • leadership and building better in Wales and
  • exploring how we can continue to support those in leadership roles as they nurture higher engagement levels as we “build better”

The discussions and reflections in each conversation will form our complete 2020 Engage for Success Wales conference together with the accompanying articles reflecting on Engaging Leadership.

We hope you enjoy our first online conference in Wales.