Webinar Rewatch: Effective Frontline Workforce Engagement in Under 15 Minutes!

Effective Frontline Workforce Engagement in under 15 minutes - a webinar with Gemma Bullock

If you are wondering why your staff satisfaction surveys are scoring so low, or your business-critical bulletins are left unread, Gemma Bullock, Communications and Engagement Lead at Ryalto, is here to help with improver your workforce engagement.

Great engagement leads to higher staff retention, reduced agency outlay and a happy healthcare business. This is 15 minutes that could change the way you operate for good!

To find out more about how Ryalto can help your company engagement improve simply fill in the form below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.


Okay, let’s get started! Morning everybody. 

Thank you so much for joining me today, my name is Gemma. I committed to 15 minutes so I’m going to stick to that time. 

Let’s get straight into it, firstly a big thank you to anybody that has attended this morning because you will be the future of your organisation! People that turn up and learn and take that learning back to their organisation are always the people that are in front. You’re the kind of people I’d like to work with!  

Effective Frontline Workforce Engagement is the topic and we’ll dive straight in.

A quick intro from me – my name is Gemma, I’m an industry expert and I work at Ryalto in the Customer Success team, working mainly in communications and engagement with our clients, helping them to grow that communication and engagement with their workforces. 

I have done this for about eight or nine years now, and I’m recognised as an NHS keynote speaker in this area, an expert and a thought leader – just to give you some reassurance that you’re in safe hands, and I’m not somebody that’s just walked off the street, and is going to try to talk to you about engagement!

A bit of housekeeping, my commitment is that we stick to the 15 minutes. You’ll see that you’ve got the chat box so you can talk to me and there’s also a Q&A box. At the end of the 15 minutes if you’ve got a question pop that in the chat box, and we will answer those. Rob, my helpful assistant will come on board, and we’ll answer those for you if you need to drop off at the 15 [minute mark], that’s absolutely fine. We just wanted to give you that extra bit of value for those of you that turned up live. 

This is a webinar obviously about engagement so please be fully present and engaged with what we’re about to show you and talk to you about. Please give us 15 minutes of undivided attention and if you’ve signed up as well, you’ll also get the replay so you can refer back so you don’t have to scribble too many notes. And so let’s dive right in! 

What is Workforce Engagement?

Firstly, I wanted to start with “What is Workforce Engagement?” and I know that sounds a bit silly, but I think there’s some misconceptions about what Workforce Engagement actually means and a lot of people think it is communicating. Communicating can be quite passive. An example of that is now; me talking to you and not giving you the chance to engage back. So at the end when we do the Q&A that’s a chance for you to engage and I think sometimes people think that engagement is just this passive conversation with the workforce and that’s where it can go wrong. 

Workforce engagement really refers to the degree of both an emotional, intellectual engagement that the workforce has to help the organisation accomplish the work, the mission of the organisation and it’s that kind of “engage in a two-way conversation” that involves helping the organisation move forward. The picture here, although it’s a bit of a silly one, is a really great analogy for engagement. Where you’ve got people that are engaged in the workforce. They’re pulling and pulling the boat in the right direction, where you’ve got your disengaged, passively engaged or not engaged you’ll see that they won’t be rowing in the same direction. For an organisation to really succeed we really want to be able to row in that right direction. That’s kind of what we’re trying to talk about today.

Why is it so important to talk about engagement? I was just reflecting actually with Rob before we popped on here and, a lot of time, people spend a lot of money on recruitment which makes complete sense, getting those people into the organisation, creating those marketing campaigns, trying to recruit the best people. But people don’t spend the money on the other part which is retaining those people and, if you do that, what happens is you get a bit of a revolving door; just as fast as you recruit, your turnover increases and you get into this stage where you’re in a constant loop of recruitment. 

The Great Resignation

Right now, if we think about the culture of the world, we’re in The Great Resignation. 44% of the workforce are actively looking for a new role right now, and it’s happened post-covid, people have reevaluated their lives. People are ready to move on. The great resignation is upon us.

It’s really hard for workforces to retain top talent – keep those real star players in their organisation. Hybrid and remote workforces post-covid are creating a lot more disconnection. So what you’ll find now is that you’ve got people working from home who feel even less connected to their organisation and less engaged, and in that scenario it’s much easier to leave because there isn’t that pull, that connection that keeps you. Employee happiness scores are a direct correlation to engagement scores, where people are feeling under engaged in their workforce they’re probably feeling unhappy and as leaders, and as people in teams, we probably don’t want that for our colleagues. The pandemic has completely reshaped the way we engage with our workforce and their expectations and needs of us. That’s really shifted. People want something different from us now, and the expectations have raised and we really need to consider how we engage with our workforce now. 

I’m now going to kind of shock you with some stats, which are from Gallup’s State of the Workforce Report for 2022. When I read these the other day, I was quite shocked and I think it shows how important engagement is in the workplace. 

Globally, 85% of employees are not engaged in their work in 2022, that’s a staggering figure! That means only 15% are engaged and if you think about that going back to that boat analogy I showed you earlier, if you think that 85% of your boat is pulling in the wrong direction or not pulling at all, you can imagine what that does to your workforce and to your organisation’s outcomes. Research also suggests that the UK and employee engagement rates fall every single year, so there’s been a trend where they fall year-on-year and in the UK only 8% of the workforce are thought to be engaged in their work. So that’s even worse – 92% of the workforce are not pulling in the right direction or actively pulling in the wrong direction. 

You can really start to see why organisations are struggling when you’ve got figures like that.

71% of Executives that were interviewed said that staff engagement is crucial to their business’s success. So everybody knows it’s important. Most people just don’t know “the how”, how do we do something about this. 

73% of employees are considering leaving their job – 44% are actively looking and 73% are thinking about it. If we think about what that impact could have on the great resignation going forward and that retention piece is huge.

Imagine trying to recruit 73% of your workforce again, it’s a fear and the last point which I think is really, really important is that 69% of employees said that they would work harder if they just felt better appreciated. If we said “Thank you”, if we recognise them for their work, if we gave something back, then 69% of the workforce would work harder.

I think that just shows the difference here in engagement and how a little bit of engagement, a little bit of appreciation can go a really long way. 

Those stats should hopefully give you a bit of a lightbulb in terms of how important this is. If you’re here it’s because you get that already, and some really good stats to take back to your organisations to talk to them about this in a bit more detail.

81,396 hours. That is the average time that all of us will spend in work in our lifetimes. 

81,396 hours. Now that is a huge statistic! 

The only thing we do more than work is sleep and it is a huge amount of our life. The reason I’ve put this in here is because I think it’s really important for us to just remember that when somebody comes to work in our organisation, or in our team, or trusts in us as a leader, they are giving us that amount of time. They’re giving us those hours and we have a responsibility to engage with them, to allow them to have a say, to allow them to get involved and to allow them to feel part of our organisation. It’s a huge responsibility as a leader and when you look at that figure, you understand why people want to feel so happy at work. Why they want to feel engaged, why they want to feel a part of the team and why they want to do work that feels purposeful and meaningful to them.

If you just keep that figure in mind as you think about engaging with your people, it will probably start to make you feel a bit differently about it. And that was certainly a shocker for me and as I’m a bit younger, I’m sure their retirement age will go up and that that figure will even increase, so that is a huge statistic! 

How do we fix Workforce Engagement

I’ve hit you with the facts and the figures; So how do we fix this? How do we fix all of that that I’ve just given to you? 

My first tip is getting the balance right and I start here by saying “have you got your 80/20 rule correct?”

Now most of us in organisations, and it’s not done with any ill intent, but we tend to communicate what we want to talk about or engage in what we want to engage with, and actually it’s the 80/20 rule. 

What does your workforce want to be engaged about? What does your workforce want to hear from you about? What is the ‘hearts and minds’ stuff that really gets people engaged, versus your corporate news . The 80/20 rule for me is really about us thinking about how often do we talk about policy change, or contract change, or tell people off for not doing their mandatory training; all things we have to do. How much should we balance that with the engagement of celebrating success, showcasing people’s achievements, talking about the organisation and where it’s going. 

How do we balance the good stuff, the celebratory stuff, the things that people want to engage with, the things that we need to talk about. 

The best examples of engagement I’ve had from my years of doing this is when we really talk about the hearts and minds. A great example I’ve got is a CEO in a previous organisation I worked for; he and the executive team had listened to colleagues on the frontline and they built a new car park, there wasn’t enough spaces. It was impacting clinical time. So they built this new car park and on the day, it was ready to to go live and the CEO went down and took a 50 second video clip and said “Hi everyone. I’m at the new car park. We’ve listened to you, really excited to see it. Let me know your thoughts. What can we do more for you? What else would you like to see?”. A really good piece of content , exactly what you want to see; engaging, has a call to action. And then he put it on Twitter where his frontline workers weren’t! 

So you create this amazing piece of content then put it in the wrong place, because predominantly your frontline workers won’t be on Twitter and connected to the CEO but it’s that hearts and minds piece – what he had done was understand that was really important to people. So where can you find what’s really really important? Then talk about it and where can you start to celebrate and showcase your people. 

Some of my clients, and we’ve got clients that do ‘Thank You Thursday’, they really celebrate and showcase peer engagement harking back to the 69% of people who want that recognition [stat]. How can we do that more?

Other clients do ‘Magic Moments’ in Social Care. Where there’s been a magical moment between a caregiver and a carer they share that magical moment and that inspires other people to think differently, to create innovation, and it hits right into the frontline workers’ mind and heart because that’s what they’re doing all day. That’s what they care about.

You can do things like ‘Hidden Heroes’. Who is your Hidden Hero on the frontline that you want to showcase and celebrate and call out. Who is that forgotten about person that deserves recognition? All this content is exactly what you need to do to engage the workforce and also have a balance here around a focus on safety. 

Post-covid, people really want to know that they’re safe in the workplace – that’s something that’s really important to people [to communicate]. How can you bring that in? 

Peer-to-peer engagement always works better – so how can you get a peer to be your influencer? How can you help them to engage? How can you get them to find out what the morale is like on the ground? What’s important to people and feed that back in? 

Do you know your target audience? Do you know what they’d like to see? I’ve got a client that has 92% engagement from their workforce. Everybody. 92% engagement daily!

That’s because we sat in a room and we asked them “What do you want to see? What do you want to be asked about? What do you not want to be asked about?” 

We built the engagement strategy on their feedback. So a lot of the time we build an engagement strategy without engaging with anyone, and it’s really funny that we do that, but it’s about testing that. How can you test what you’re trialling with your workforce and statistics – look at what your content is in terms of readership, in terms of analytics. 

How many times people are looking at it? Has it got engagement? If it hasn’t, it probably isn’t the right thing. How can you be visible as leaders in this new world, in a remote world? Video content is known to be viewed 50% more of the time, and people retain 93% of the information compared to 10% in written form. So can you be more visible as a leader on quick videos? How can you mix up your approach to engagement? Whenever I say engagement to people they run straight for another survey and there’s always a place for sentiment in my view, but you can over survey your workforce and then not take any action. So that’s that balance there. It’s getting the balance right between you asking people what they want and delivering it.

The last point here is really about that multimedia approach. Where is the image which is live from a frontline area that says we are here with this team today. Where is the text that describes a blog post from a leader? Where is the email? Where’s the imagery? How can you create this all-encompassing engagement plan? The first point really is: is the balance right? Are you engaging people in the content they really want to be engaged with?

Sorry guys. I’m a little bit over on time with two slides left!  

Are you missing engaging with key members of your workforce? Are you broadcasting outside of the working time? If you work in a 24/7 organisation, do you engage 24 hours a day or only engage from nine to five when the comms team is in/when you’re working? 

Do you have something in the morning for those workers that work then? Do you have something in the middle of the night? Thinking about how you can engage with all worker types. Do you engage over the weekend when predominant members of your workforce will be working. Do you engage with members of the community? For people that work out in the community? Have you got a separate engagement plan for those people that are working in the community? Make sure you choose the right platform. 

So, if your frontline workers are not at a desk, they might not be getting news. Most of you will be using email corporate communication channels, and they just aren’t hitting the workforce. Frontline workers, up to 30% don’t check that email every week. So if you’re communicating just via email, you know you are not getting that communication, and are your people being alienated by those channels? Does it disengage them before they even go in? How can you find a platform that really works for your people? Maybe it’s on their phone and that will really help them to get that news. Are you engaging passively? Are you just giving people news and not giving them a chance to engage back? Are you giving people lots of information but never asking them what they think or what they want to do?

A study by McKinsey & Co found that 43% of organisations that digitally empower frontline employees see excellent progress. There’s been a lot of investment in digitally empowering the backend and the corporate teams but not as much in that frontline investment and  just a reminder that Gen Z and Millennials continue to make up the majority of the workforce. They’re used to using technology. So using the right platform in the right way, things that feel like social media, things that build that community are going to really help that!

The final slide and in summary- the five things I take away are: 

  • You want to have focused and targeted communication engagement strategy that is built around your frontline workforce – do not try to do the same thing for your frontline as you do for your corporate staff
  • Find those empowered leaders and empower leaders and managers who can inspire the frontline with direct engagement 
  • Create a culture or a community where you recognise and celebrate your people those ‘Hidden Heroes’, those ‘Thank You Thursdays’, really recognising the ‘Nurse of the Week’, the ‘Doctor of the Week’ 
  • Ensure you’re utilising the digital workspace and don’t forget about those other channels 
  • Gain regular feedback from your workforce and pull it straight back into your engagement strategy. The second you get that feedback, use it straight away to inform what you do going forward. 

That’s it from me in 15, well 18, minutes, thank you and over to any questions!



Thank you very much for that Gemma, it was absolutely terrific and well done for nearly getting it there in the 15 minutes as promised. We have got three questions. 

First is from Jim. What would you recommend as a simple but effective method of taking a temperature check of workforce engagement in health and care settings?


Love that question Jim and I think it is the quick sentiment survey. So I think it is. How are you feeling today? At Ryalto, we use quick smiley face surveys like in the airport toilets. Let us know how you’re feeling today. How are you feeling engaged in your work today? And you can often tell engagement levels by looking at turnover and vacancy rates. So have a look at those statistics that you already have from your workforce and look at productivity levels. But if you want to ask people, then it’s that quick survey. 

Most of the time if you send a 40 questions survey to your workforce, then the people that don’t want to engage will disengage before they’ve filled it in and so it is that quick, quick check and via a quick sentiment survey. Or [use] a member of the team. Ask a few members of the team. What is morale like? How do people feel? You’ll get that quick feedback in terms of engagement.


Excellent. Thank you. Okay, the second question is – There are so many different ways workers are communicated to, how do you find the best route and reduce the number of channels being used?


Love that question and I think it’s about asking first, in the workforce, where the communication is best for them. For me, we find that on the phone is the best place; people check their phone something like 72 times an hour which is ridiculous, but people are checking their phone constantly and so, it’s the phone, but it’s also deciding whether you’re over communicating with your workforce. Are you communicating the same message through every single one of your channels? If so, what can you turn off and that’s really looking at statistics. So looking at intranet hits and saying actually, nobody’s reading this, and so it’s just another channel which is not being used. So looking at those hits and then really trying to drill that down into what your frontline workforce is. For us, the future is apps, we work in a tech company and it is kind of that way because it’s just on their phone; people will look at that as they look at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and for me, moving away from email comms is the best thing you can do because people have too many emails as it is and they don’t want to engage with more. Thanks Rob.


Alright and finally; How do you ensure that the celebratory shout outs content is actually seen amongst the large amounts of corporate news?


It goes back to the balance, you need to have as much celebratory content as you do the corporate comms and you might go “How on Earth do I accomplish that?”. When you start to create a community which is based around celebratory and showcasing and you start asking your workforce for examples of that you’ll find that they flood in. It takes some time to build that but as people start to see x and x being shouted out, and this team being shouted out, and let’s all celebrate this, then what they do is they’ve come forward with their own examples of that. Something else you can do is start to showcase things at the end of the week. 

  • This is how many procedures we’ve done 
  • This is how many people we’ve seen
  • This is how many visits we made 
  • This is how many buildings we built. 

Those kind of things that start to talk to people and get their mind focused on what we have achieved rather than we haven’t achieved, putting those things out consistently, you’ll find people start looking for it because that makes them feel good and it gives them a boost. 


Wonderful. So that’s all the questions and, we’ve just had a quick comment here. “Thank you very much. This is giving me a lot of food for thought about engagement and what our workforce wants to see and love the showcasing.”

So, I think that’s a great endorsement to end on, Gemma, thank you very much, and we hope we see you all again soon. 


Thank you everybody.

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