Spotlight Q & A with Sarah Pass 

Sarah Pass: TAG Chair, Academic, Harry Potter Fan

News BriEFS caught up with volunteer Sarah Pass to ask her about her roles in EFS and how she’s balancing work, life and books.

What do you do at Engage for Success?

I wear a few hats. I lead the Line Manager TAG, I’ll lead the newly-formed Engagement Champions TAG due to launch in 2021, I co-lead the Behavioural Economics/Science TAG, I chair the East Midlands Area Network and I am a member of the People Productivity TAG.

What is your day job?

Currently, I’m a Senior Lecturer in HRM at Nottingham Business School (Nottingham Trent University).

How does what you do with EFS translate into your career?

I’ve been involved in academic and practitioner research projects for almost 20 years. A consistent focus across all the projects is my interest in employee experiences of work – I like going into organisations and talking to people. Since moving to Nottingham Business School, I have been able to integrate my research interests in employee engagement with my academic role.

What are the Line Manager TAG’s aims and outputs?

The main aims of the TAG are to explore the role of the line manager in maintaining and developing employee engagement. We often talk about engagement as an overarching concept, but rarely consider what this means in practice. We sought to explore this in more detail by conducting case study research that involved interviews and focus groups, which went beyond senior managers. We talked to line managers and front-line employees about what engagement meant to them. Our initial findings were presented at the CIPD Applied Research Conference (2019) and we have presented at a series of practitioner and academic events over the past 18 months. We are aiming to write up the findings from the public sector case studies at the start of next year.

How will you know if the TAG has been a success?

Good question! For us, success would be producing outputs about the role of the line manager that made a difference to employee engagement.

How has the TAG changed since COVID-19?

We were due to start research in our final case study at the start of the Covid-pandemic, but it’s been put on hold temporarily. The momentum of the group slowed down during the first lockdown as members of the TAG were under increasing workload pressure in our “day jobs” – not to mention home-schooling, childcare, and taking on additional caring responsibilities.  We are adapting to the “new normal” and things are picking up again. We’ve had regular meetings and presented at events.

It’s been a tough year for everyone. What has been a personal or professional highlight in the past 12 months?

A professional highlight was organising and hosting the EFS public sector event at the start of the year. It originally started as a half-day aiming for 50 people, but developed into a full day of fantastic speakers with almost 180 delegates! Also being invited to join the RSA as a Fellow and connecting with some inspiring people. But the biggest highlight has been a personal one – potty training my youngest!

What do you do to keep up your energy?

Lockdown encouraged me to dust off the rowing machine. Whilst rowing in the garage with the cobwebs and spiders is not the most inspiring place (it’s an old garage and in need of repair!), rowing has really helped my physical and mental health.

What are you reading or listening to, at the moment?

Currently, it’s a combination of Julia Donaldson books and Harry Potter! Snuggling in bed reading to my girls is the highlight of my day.

If you could share one message with the other volunteers at EFS, what would it be?

My message would be, thank you! Thank you for the encouragement, the opportunities, the sense of community, the understanding, and for making me feel valued.

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