In this first spotlight on an Engage for Success secondee/volunteer we speak with Ruth Lawton who was one of the first secondees to the movement.
Ruth Lawton – HR Director, Employee Engagement, GKN plc
1. How did you hear about the EFS secondment and what attracted you to taking up this post? I first heard about EFS movement and the possibility of a secondment when I was approached internally to do the new role of leading Employee Engagement for the GKN Group. I had worked in Operational (Operations?) and more recently Corporate HR roles for almost 20 years with GKN and understood that my first 6 months of this new role would involve a full time secondment to the core EFS team. The idea of an opportunity to take a look outside of organisation the was very exciting but also a little daunting. .
2. What did your remit include during your secondment? What was your highlight? Fondest memory? My remit during the secondment was as broad as I wanted to make it really. I had some core accountabilities which centred around translating the notion of a website into a reality, sourcing content and co-ordinating the branding project. The nature of the way of working within the EFS team however was very inclusive and we were each involved in the learning, thinking, planning and doing that was necessary to advance the EFS movement as a whole. It is difficult to identify just one highlight, but I would include the thrill of working with some of the most credible organisations in their field, such as Thomson Reuters, Brand Union, Possibilities Worldwide, Grass Roots, Pwc, Best Companies to name a few, who stepped forward to support us in our journey for no return other than believing in the cause. My fondest memories would be the fun we had as a team, laughing a tremendous amount, usually at one of Nita’s outrageous stories, and being “in it together”.
3. What have you personally gained and/or how have you grown as a result of this secondment? With 25 years in the field of HR, L&D I did think my experience would support me in most situations. My experience with EFS was a total emersion into the topic and it provided and continues to provide me with an insight about employee engagement that I could never have gained, through study, social media networks or plain work experience.The knowledge I gained specifically equips me to more readily spot practices that work in opposition with engagement as well as opportunities for improvement in our business. I feel that I have many stories and anecdotes to speak about to help guide our business and HR leaders.
4. How has your originating company benefited from the secondment? What was your role before joining the secondment? Is your role now? Previous to my secondment, my roles had been in generalist HR and talent management and development. I was appointed to the role of HR Director for Employee Engagement just before my secondment, with the deliberate intention to learn as much as possible for my new role as well as use my experience as a practitioner to support the EFS movement. GKN has benefitted from my secondment in that we now have a clear concept for Employee Engagement which centres around the 4 enablers, and some clarity about where we are doing well and where we have gaps. We have aligned our survey feedback around the concept which is more intuitive to line managers and helping them to understand their results more readily.
5. Tell us about your experience of stepping out of your day job to join EFS. How did you manage this new situation of being involved in two organisations (EFS and GKN). This was honestly a real challenge. I’d been in a corporate world for a long time and also my usual interactions were very diverse in a global role and not at all UK centric. I found the “free thinking, free doing” style of the team really strange at first. But with the support of team colleagues, I think we all found a way of working together that pulled on both. This is now on reflection one of the biggest learning for me that without the EFS experience I would never have understood.
6. What pearls of wisdom would you like to give to others who are considering doing a secondment at EFS? Just do it – you will never experience anything quite like it. It is exciting to feel part of an organisation that has such a great purpose. And it’s an opportunity to indulge in some real thinking on this subject, meet some extremely professional people, and have the privilege of seeing first hand so much great practice.
A huge thank you to Ruth Lawton for her time and contribution to Engage for Success.
Tags: engage for success, Interview, Secondee