What can the Salz Report and Francis Report tell us? 

Employee Engagement is not just good for performance; it can also prevent organisational crises. Nita Clarke examines the lessons of the Francis Report into Mid Staffs Hospital and the Salz Report into Barclays Bank in her article. In both cases poor leadership, the absence of a strategic narrative and a weak employee voice were part of the culture that led to the crises in each organisation. These cases show that employee engagement is both essential in averting such disasters and in alerting leaders to when things do go wrong.

She emphasises how both reports identify issues of inadequate governance and behaviours by the senior leaders and the board: “the board sets the tone from the top of the organisation and must carry ultimate responsibility for its values, culture and business practice.”

Taken together, these two reports lay bare the consequences of dysfunctional cultures on the operation, and the reputation, of institutions of national importance. They should be required reading for leaders everywhere, since it is clear that these two instances – while extreme – are not exceptional. Many of the findings are echoed in other reports into significant institutional failures – for example the recent Respect at Work report on the BBC’s culture.

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