Outcomes Through Engagement: How the Public Sector Improves Citizen Outcomes Through Employee Engagement 

This content is part of the Vision for the Public Sector Zone 


David MacLeod and Nita Clarke, Co-Founders of Engage for Success

There is a level of capability and potential in every human being at work. Put in one situation the individual offers a small percentage of that capability and potential. Put in a better situation they offer significantly more. Potential and effort willingly offered by the individual benefits their own well-being and the objectives of the wider organisation.

The state of Employee Engagement in the UK remains low, with only around a third of workers being highly engaged, and productivity continues to lag nearly 20% behind that of other G7 countries. With increased economic uncertainty, improving engagement, and therefore improving productivity and other related outcomes, is a vital activity to support the wellbeing of both our people and our economy.

The UK Government of 2008 commissioned our original report on Employee Engagement, Engaging for Success. Successive governments have supported the Engage for Success movement, with numerous Civil Service Departments and Public Sector organisations using our Four Enablers of Engagement.

We present here 14 case studies from a variety of those organisations. We highlight within them the enablers of engagement, and the impact the actions taken had on both employees and citizens receiving a service.

Our thanks go to the Cabinet Office and CIPD for sponsoring this work and we also sincerely thank our case study contributors for putting themselves under scrutiny in this process.


John Manzoni, Permanent Secretary for the Cabinet Office & Rupert McNeil, Chief People Officer for the Civil Service

There is a well established and growing body of evidence demonstrating the business benefit of employee engagement in both the private and public sector. These benefits are seen in employees having a more meaningful relationship with their work, customer satisfaction, and increased productivity, which we know to be a long-standing structural challenge for the UK.

In the Civil Service, like many other public sector employers, we have some great stories to tell about our work to improve employee engagement, such as the fact that our People Survey engagement index, now in its 10th year, was completed by 61% of civil servants last year – more than ever before.

The case studies in this paper provide some excellent examples of the benefits of employee engagement achieved in a range of different ways, from adopting a different leadership mindset, to creating the conditions for real teamwork, acting on feedback, and empowering staff to extraordinary acts of compassion.

Read in isolation, they illustrate what can be achieved by individual organisations. But what is really exciting, and why this paper, taken as a whole, is so important, is the cumulative effect of better engagement across all public sector organisations.

We exist to enable a safe, healthy, productive civil society. Simply put, the better the public sector performs, the better the UK will be as a place to live, work and prosper.

This is a time of extraordinary change – demographically, technologically, politically – and it is too often said that these changes put public sector organisations under considerable strain.

But we believe there is an alternative narrative running through this document, that shows the many positive benefits the public sector has when it is working in the most engaging ways. Given these benefits and the evidence of better outcomes for citizens and employees, it is up to each leader in their own context to embrace engagement and make it integral to the working environment they lead.

It is our hope that this paper inspires leaders across the public sector to continue to review their employee engagement strategies and how they lead engaged employees and to consider what further steps they can take as public sector leaders.

A Message From Our Sponsor

Peter Cheese, Chief Executive, CIPD

How people feel about the work they do, the ways in which they are supported, how well it aligns to their own purpose and their development, and belief and trust in those around them instinctively we all know are vital to our performance. There is also much long established research that confirms these instincts and yet we still debate and seem to struggle with building the motivation and engagement of many people at work.

The changing context of work, impacts of technology, but also greater demands for productivity, customer service, transparency, often with less resources particularly in the Public Sector, put an ever greater premium on understanding and improving engagement.

The Engage for Success movement, established under David Cameron’s time as PM, has made a huge contribution to advancing the understanding of engagement, collating and challenging the extensive body of research, distilling the 4 key enablers of engagement – leadership, engaging managers, employee voice, and organisational integrity – but most importantly in building the movement for change and action to implement these approaches.

This paper provides much of this valuable content to help you all, whether as HR practitioners, leaders or managers, to help to build a more engaged and connected workforce across Public Sector. The impact and outcomes are clear, and the opportunity to showcase great work already being undertaken in so many areas of central and local government will help build the confidence in all of us to make a difference.

Outcomes Through Engagement

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