Member Since: 26th May 2011
Former Omnicom director, consultant and author Ian P Buckingham is the founder of the Bring Yourself 2 Work fellowship and Elder Management Consulting.
They are founded on the principle that true engagement, especially employee engagement, is a vital component of brand and organisation performance and that involvement and authenticity are key to sustainable engagement.
He previously established Interbrand Inside at the home of probably the most respected brand rating, employer brand and evaluation agency, Interbrand, and was a pivotal member of the partner team at the ground breaking internal communication and change management consultancy SDL.
He has so far written two of the three seminal, case-study based texts in the employee engagement/employer brand space which occupy the intersection between HR; Marketing and Communication now known as the brand trilogy and has featured in many more.
Ian is a CIPD columnist, respected and prolific writer and has partnered with clients across sectors to support many leading UK and global brands whether they’re ltd companies, professional services partnerships, not for profit organisations or places/countries. Through his consultancy and his case-study-based writing, Ian has earned a reputation as one of the most insightful and influential champions of authenticity in the workplace as a powerful way of unlocking employee engagement and underpinning sustainable, high performing organisations.
He's also recently written a trilogy of children's fiction books based on Joseph Campbell's hero's journey model.
Founder and Owner Bring Yourself 2 Work
17th Apr 2018
Indeed it does and there are plenty more case studies like Barbour, Manchester United, Virgin, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, ARM Holdings etc in my two case study based books on this very subject: Brand Champions and Brand Engagement:
21st Jun 2016
I have to agree and have been making these points for some time. Certainly since the economic downturn and the disenfranchisement arising from the over supply of graduates into the market, it has been apparent that many of the generalisations about so-called Millenials would have to be re-invented and re-thought. They are going to encounter challenges more akin to previous generations, particularly as the source of disposable income that has funded an entitlement mentality, dries up, the realities of an employer's market come home to roost and everyone slips down Maslow's hierarchy of needs again. But demographics aside, there has been far too much generalisation. As with previous generations, the beauty is in the blend and for employer's, the secret to constructive culture development is to be clear about your employer brand and the type of people who will thrive there, regardless of where they sit in the spectrum of diversity.
17th Apr 2013
...lies the rub!
Take RBS as an example. Their internal comms functions are leading seminars on employee engagement. Yet they're representing a bankrupt organisation plagued by wave after wave of behaviour-driven scandals that point to an undeniable cultural issue regardless of the leadership spin.
The fact is, as I've stated many times on here and elsewhere before, it is entirely possible:
a) to be engaged and underperform (think painting yourself into a corner or marathon training for a sprint)
b) to be engaged with the wrong things (think rubbernecking on motorways or rabbits in headlights)
Cynics are oddly engaged and engaging because they have energy. It just so happens they don't happen to share the same goals as the establishment!
Leadership teams can walk away from a conference feeling hugely "entertained" by and events company, but how long will that entertainment be mistaken for engagement when they hit the real corporate culture head on again?
Engagement stats are very useful as they provide an indication of what mechanisms, messages, approaches and channels appeal to a particular audience. But as you rightly say, they need to be combined with PM and other data to show how healthy the system is as a whole.
More about this on this HRZone blog:
4th Apr 2013
An interesting point Anna.
As I mention above "gamification" should be seen as the application of "game" thinking to people engagement (customers, employees etc). That's much broader than simply applied technology with which the terms is fast becoming synonymous.
If you apply the "true" definition then the term covers:
- corporate role playing
- scenario-based workshop interventions
- strategic "envisioning" exercises
and a whole host of other applications that don't need "tech" to work and which are as attractive to women as they are to men.
That being said, while I don't have the stats to hand, there's little doubt that women embrace so-called social media as readily as their male counterparts (Twitter/facebook/Linkedin/Mummsnet etc being examples) and I'm sure are becoming an ever growing % of the game market via apps etc especially.
It is interesting that your comment implies that this could potentially alienate women and therefore reinforce barriers preventing workplace equality.
But shouldn't the question be, why, when so much of technology-led gaming is Gen Y led and therefore is post the alleged sexism of Gen X etc, haven't more female-centric alternatives to this type of "gaming"evolved naturally as I'm sure they haven't been intentionally alienated, if indeed they are at all?
4th Apr 2013
Surely at least one of the aims of any learning intervention has to be pursuit of smarter decisions driven by improved skills and levels of understanding. Part of the process has to involve face to face interactions between people to develop empathy, understanding and cultivate emotional intelligence.
While welcoming the benefits of so-called cosial media and technology solutions to communication, I've long held the view that the term is a misnomer! "Social" should embrace the full gamut of interactions, both technology linked and eyeball to eyeball, with the emphasis very much on the latter. Consequently, so-called "gamification", a rather clunky US term for increasing stakeholder engagement and loyalty through gaming, or internally, "playing games at work in order to learn", should embrace more than technology delivered "faster, better, instantly, yesterday" etc. It should include scenario planning and strategic role playing that is informed by and not dominated by technology like, you know, real business is!
One of the biggest issues we currently face at work and in society is the myth that technology is the route to more effective communication, forgetting that communication isn't about "pushing" messages, it's a two-way process which should result in some sort of understanding and consequent action.
The best "games" are those that blend technology with real play with real people. If you're in any doubt, watch how much fun your kids can have with a couple of sticks and an old blanket and compare that to their Playstation time!
The quality of the interactions is what's most important whether we're learning, working or just having fun!
8th Nov 2012
and another five that should be prioritised:
1. Ensure there's clarity about the "why" i.e. the goals and objectives are clearly articulated
2. Be clear about the senior sponsors and role models ("I will if they do")
3. Ensure that you engage employees by involving them
4. Collaborate closely with your internal comms team
5. Provide regular progress updates against key milestones (look back to what's been achieved not just to the challenges ahead)
18th Oct 2012
It's great to read this piece on Ella.
Fujitsu is certainly a brand to watch owing much of their success to one of the few major brand transformation and employee engagement programmes to have survived the global downturn.
You can read more about the transformation of Fujitsu here:
11th Jul 2012
As someone who has both worked in and consulted to the banking sector, covering both retail and investment banking, I have to wonder what the [***] has been happening within HR depts at times as many of these discussions really fall into performance management 101 yet are being presented as if they've just landed from Mars!!
There's a great deal of focus on "bonuses", yet very little on performance management. This sector used to have fairly well defined performance contracts based on relatively simple balanced scorecard criteria:
- financial goals
- customer service goals
- process goals
- people and organisation development goals.
These were linked to the core job competencies and the values and behaviours of the organisation.
Sometimes, in the more enlightened organisations, they were linked to a defined ideal culture.
All of the above was the basic performance contract.
Bonuses were discretionary and were entirely linked to:
1. The overall performance of the business
2. The performance of the unit
3. Individual performance over and above the above (hence the term "bonus")
Bonuses couldn't be guaranteed and were engineered to foster medium term focus and a team mentality (if I gain, you gain etc).
It was the investment banking operations that introduced a hybrid notion of the performance contract, as it became a bi-word for:
1. under-performance (I'm "on a performance contract" or am "being performance managed")
2. the "up or out" culture
3. quarterly "appraisals"
4. intense internal, often "macho" competition
5. "guaranteed" bonuses, regardless of group performance
It's the last point that has probably attracted most of the obvious venom from external critics but it's arguably the culture that this change created which has caused the most insidious damage.
Sure, basic salaries were generally increased across the banks to what was termed "market rates" but benefits were eroded, tenure declined and internal competition increased exponentially. Clearly short-termism became the focus and notions of "team" became secondary considerations, none of which has been good news for the sector and the pension fund managers who rely on steady performing stocks.
There has clearly been a clash of cultures, especially where former investment banking heads have taken over retail operations. Efficiencies and the blend of the best of both cultures is fine. But the markets, pension funds, customer perceptions and psychological contracts with employees have never been adjusted/re-negotiated.
Sadly, the 140000 Barclays employees, for example, are being tarred with the same brush as the 400 or so, largely investment banking uber earners, a small proportion of whom are responsible for the current problems, yet each of whom (according to their accounts) appears to take home in excess of £4m in bonsues per annum!
I'm afraid however, to read comments from the FSA and customer service consultants that simply by introducing customer satisfaction stats into bonus negotiations,there will no longer be a problem. It's unfortunately naive, ignorant of the past and belittling to the workaday employees.
It would appear that the term culture is in grave risk of being abused and the point lost. It's simply the sum of the way an organisation does things; behaviours; norms linked to values. It can be defined and shaped but only if it's role modelled and rewarded. Provided the right blend of enablers and goals are reflected in the performance management contracts of the first line managers and they're properly engaged, any business can turn around its internal culture. Turn around enough organisations and with the right structural changes to complement the process the sector will recover. But it's a waste of time doing one without the other!
10th Jul 2012
Despite the fact that the Barclays debacle is only the latest in a succession of leadership and management-related brand disasters (Northern Rock; The Football Association; RBS; News of the World etc etc), it's no coincidence that we're also witnessing leadership disasters in the political (MP's expenses, Millibands etc), religious (female bishops; hild sexual abuse) and other socio-economic institutions that are undermining general faith and wellbeing levels.
This is much more than a failure in a leadership system or process. It represents a fault line between the values, ethics and behaviour of the people in positions of power and the values, ethics, beliefs and needs of stakeholders at large ranging from employees through to customers, shareholders and the community.
In this age of omnipresent communication, there are less and less places for the unethical "brand pirates" to hide.
Behaviour which undermines the confidence of the people who breathe life into brands will ultimately be exposed (just as Bob Diamond's emails etc were leaked, revealing him to be both dictatorial in style, disempowering and woefully out of touch as. no doubt, are many other CEOs).
This is about both the route and the destination and an appreciation that healthy organisations can't cut corners. Culture, values and behaviours are just as important as technical skills. They can't be bought and have to be nurtured by positive role models. Organisations can't promise one thing and deliver another or they will inevitably face the ire of their increasingly empowered stakeholders, making the CEO's task of balancing the needs of those communities a tricky one.
10th Jul 2012
While it's always reassuring to hear any senior figure supporting the employee engagement drive and I particularly favour the common ground between hr; comms and marketing as rich territory for building brands, the needs of the distinct stakeholder groups are subtly different.
Causon is of course right to make the link between customer satisfaction and employee engagement. But it has been proven time and again that engagement and sustainability has less to do with reward and more to do with behaviour and you can't "market" to internal audiences as they demand authenticity from their internal comms.
Mutuality may be about shared ownership, but the point most critics (inc Clegg) miss is that it's mostly driven and reinforced by ethos, culture, values, behaviour and "living the brand".
Internal culture, first line management behaviour and people processes like performance management, comms and learning & development are key drivers of engagement. But perhaps most important of all is consultation, listening and involvement. The good news is that these are largely cost neutral and there should be no excuses for investing the time and effort.