The 2021 Best Employers Eastern Region programme launched with inspiring speakers looking at the importance of employee engagement.

As businesses look ahead to life after lockdown, it has never been more important – or more challenging – to look after their people. The Best Employers Eastern Region is a not-for-profit programme designed to help companies find the smartest ways of doing that.

The programme launched with an online event hosted by Best Employers partners Birketts and Pure. “Over the past year, organisations had to pivot, to be inspirational and innovate,” said Lynn Walters of Pure, co-host of the event. She described the launch event as the place “to be inspired on employee engagement and gain some great tips and inspiration to keep your culture fresh. ”

The webinar featured British entrepreneur Tamara Lohan of travel business Mr & Mrs Smith, sharing her experience of leading a team through lockdown. It began with international author and HR leader Debra Corey, who looked at the importance of unlocking the power of employee engagement.

“Employee engagement is a two-way street,” she explained. "It's our responsibility to do what we can so our employees will unlock it themselves and start engaging with the organisation.”

Companies with high levels of employee engagement, she said, have higher levels of productivity, greater customer loyalty, 67% lower turnover of staff, 75% lower rates of absence and 41% lower rates of safety incidents.

She highlighted that the most common words associated with employee engagement were things like “committed”, “dedicated”, “passionate”, “satisfied”, “energetic”, and “happy”. While those are all positives - everyone wants happy and satisfied staff, after all - she argued that these on their own aren't enough.

“Our companies need more than just happy people,” she said. "They need people who are going to be driving the business. And to be honest, employees deserve more as well.”

Mrs Corey explained that there are four parts to the employee engagement cycle. The first is for people to understand and believe in the direction of the company. The second is for them to know how their role contributes to that and the impact they have. The third part is for staff to genuinely want the company to success – and to be ready to find ways to make that happen.

Mrs Corey had written about these in Build it: the rebel playbook for world-class employee engagement. “Now, this fourth definition is new,” she explained. "An engaged employee believes that their company cares for and supports them.”

This has been highlighted over the past year, as companies looked to take care of staff through the challenging lockdown conditions. “I think this is going to be the difference between having engaged and disengaged employees,” she argued. “And also having people stay with your company and leave.”

She advised companies to keep those four principles in mind when considering their employee engagement strategy and her talk continued with suggestions for ways companies can begin to build up engagement levels. There is information available in her book and on her website and organisations taking part in the Best Employers programme can view the recording of her full talk at any time.

The Best Employers survey

One of the key tools for every company looking to enhance its people-management is an employee engagement survey – and though these can sometimes cost thousands, the Best Employers Eastern Region programme includes one. Powered by Best Employers co-founders eras Ltd, the survey is easy to use and can be tailored to the unique needs of every business.

As well as providing tangible information about the business, the Best Employers survey provides accurate benchmarking against both firms in the same sector and against other businesses across the region. The survey is open now and runs until July 31.

At the end of the programme, the most successful businesses will have the opportunity to become Best Employers accredited – demonstrating how well they look after their staff.

“As we unlock, the war for talent will recommence and great employers who engage with their staff will be able to take best advantage of the improving economic conditions," says Jeanette Wheeler of Birketts, who co-hosted the event.

For further information, see