Webinar Rewatch: Shattering the big 3 frontline workforce engagement myths in just 15 minutes!

Shattering the big 3 frontline workforce engagement myths in just 15 minutes with Gemma Bullock

Did you know that whatever you heard about modern workforce engagement is probably all wrong?

Leave all of your preconceptions at the virtual door and join industry expert Gemma Bullock, Communications and Engagement Lead at Ryalto, for a snack-sized Webinar that sets the record straight.

Catch up on the webinar now:

Gemma draws on over ten years of experience to share why some of the UK’s most forward-thinking, successful companies trust Ryalto’s technology to keep their best people engaged.


This month, Ryalto CEO, Jon Bennett, joined the session for a Ryalto ‘Ask Me Anything’.


Rob Swift (RS)

By my reckoning that’s 11 o’clock. Good morning, and thank you for coming to the latest in Ryalto’s 15 minute webinars, Focused on Workforce Engagement, the topic, I’m sure you will agree, is of increasing importance in the workplace today.

In interest of expediency I’ll hand over straight away to your presenter, Gemma, who’s Communications and Engagement lead at Ryalto,  and Jon Bennett, CEO of Ryalto, who is here to help answer your questions and engagement related queries at the end of Gemma’s presentation. 

I’m going to go off camera so you can focus entirely and engage with Gemma, over to you Gemma!

Gemma Bullock (GB)

Thanks so much Rob, and thank you everyone for coming! I know that it’s really busy for everybody so I really appreciate you giving us your time again. 

We’ve got 15 minutes, I’m going to stick to my times so I’ll share my screen now and let’s get straight into it. 

And the topic today is “Shattering the 3 Biggest Workforce Engagement Myths” – the ones that you see all over LinkedIn and trying to get through those, and show you that actually those aren’t always the case, they aren’t always true, and we’re gonna do a bit of demystifying! 

Then I’m going to hand over to Jon Bennett, our CEO, a workforce expert extraordinaire and he will answer anyone’s questions so put them in the top box as we go through and we’ll answer those at the end. [It’s] a really good opportunity to get some kind of free knowledge directly from Jon, who is fantastic and really just practises what he preaches. 

Let’s get into it and a quick intro for me if you haven’t met me before, I’m Gemma Bullock, I’m an industry expert and I’ve worked in engagement and culture roles for around nine years now. I’m recognized as an NHS keynote speaker and expert in this area so you can trust what I’m saying!

I’ve spent a lot of time working with disengaged teams helping them to be re-engaged across different Health and Social Care practices.

So that’s a little bit about me and before we get started. Obviously, we’ve got 15 minutes, any questions pop those in the chat box and this is a webinar about engagement obviously. So please be fully present and engaged so that you get the most out of it and we’ll get into the myths!

A reminder, if you came to my last webinar, you’ll have heard me talk about this statistic a lot, It’s from Gallup’s State of the Workplace report. That suggests that 85% of the workforce are disengaged in 2022 globally, in the UK only 8% of people in the workforce are engaged and that’s a huge statistic and I wanted to kind of position that at the start as a reminder of why this is so important and as I go through these myths and try to bust them you might start to see why we have such a figure here and why 85% of our Workforce is just not engaged. 

The first myth I wanted to burst is that:

Employee Engagement is the HR Manager’s job

This is one I hear all of the time from leaders and managers who say “Well it’s not really for me to do, it’s for HR to do”. Although HR have a place and in helping with Employee Engagement. It’s not their job to manage everyone’s engagement within the organisation. 

If we shatter this myth; the first thing I’d like to say is employment engagement is a collective responsibility. It’s every manager. It’s every Leader’s job to manage Employee Engagement. From the top of the organisation to the bottom of the organisation it does require the participation of every single person involved.

If you’re in a team leader position, a management position, a leadership position, it is your responsibility to engage with your cohort of the workforce, but it’s equally employees responsibility to engage back. HR managers often will lead on employee engagement initiatives but without the wider engagement from leaders and managers these often won’t be successful. I’ve spent a lot of time, actually worked in HR for a couple of years, and I would roll out lots of different initiatives. 

So things like let’s do staff awards, let’s do staff appreciation week, let’s go out and do an engagement week; and I often find that there was engagement there, but when I spoke to people on the ground to say why aren’t these landing properly and they would say things to me like “well, actually, Gem and it’s lovely having a free pen and a free cupcake or a free coffee voucher but what would be even nicer would be if my leader engaged with me, if they said hello in the morning and they asked me how I was”. 

So I think that the first myth is really important, that it’s not just HR’s job. It’s all of our job and we can’t just expect the HR manager to lead all of the engagement within the organisation and to lead all the communication and to lead everything that’s going on. It’s the responsibility of everybody. So that’s myth number one. Hopefully I’ve shattered that one a little bit for you.

Myth number two is: 

Managers know how to effectively engage with their colleagues. 

So managers are just born knowing that they know how to effectively engage with their colleagues? I think this is a huge myth. Managers do not always know how to effectively engage with their colleagues because managers aren’t engagement experts, and I think it’s really important here that if we are a manager and we’re not really sure about this, then we think about how we can get some advice from somebody who is an engagement expert. 

Managers do not always know how to effectively engage with their colleagues because managers aren’t engagement experts

You aren’t just born with this and you will often need support with the “how” when creating and embedding engagement strategies. 

You’ll need some help with how to do that, how to best engage with your Workforce. 

It’s also a topic that is really commonly missed from leadership and management training – there won’t often be a section on how to best engage your Workforce when you’re going through leadership and management training. There is often a big section on how to performance manage or how to discipline, or how to have difficult conversations, but it doesn’t tend to be balanced with how to get the best out of your Workforce, how to engage them, and how to get their feedback. 

It’s often missed out of that, and how can we expect that cohort of Workforce to be able to do that if they aren’t sure how to or they haven’t got that expertise? Often in organisations we don’t have expertise on really how to engage the workforce, we think we do! But there is this piece around if we don’t know, we don’t know what we don’t know and [without] having that expertise managers aren’t able to engage the workforce well without the right tools. 

I really believe in the Great Resignation, in a new world post-covid, where we have a hybrid and remote Workforce that this tends to be digital tools. It tends to be apps, it tends to be digital tools. 

If managers haven’t got access to tools that actually do a lot of this work for them, then it will be a lot harder for them and managers need to know how to use these tools and to have the expertise to be able to use them to really engage their Workforce. 

Some stats here which probably add to this, 91% of survey surveyed employees, and this is a survey by Interact/Harris Poll, said that their leaders lack communication skills.

91% of survey surveyed employees said that their leaders lack communication skills.

91% – that’s a huge statistic and probably if we go back to that 85% disengagement it probably is here because actually employers are saying their leaders don’t really have the the right communication skills and the right engagement skills to really engage them. 

This again is why leaders really need to have those digital tools that can help them. They need to work with experts who can really position them so they really know how to engage with the workforce. There’s also another statistic I found from Trade Press Services that said 85% of employees are most motivated when internal communications are effective.

You can see that those two stats really go together.

So when it’s going well, you’ve got 85% more productivity and effectiveness where it’s going badly and 91% of people are saying, actually my leader isn’t good at communicating and engaging with me. 

So I really want to bust that myth that managers always know how to do this, they don’t! 

It’s also always changing, so market trends are changing daily, you need somebody that’s constantly on it. And, let’s be honest, managers are busy. They’re busy managing the day job. They’re busy managing different things within their teams. They’ve got different organisational objectives – engagement often falls quite low on their priority list, but it is really one of the most important things which is why working with those experts is really really important.

And myth number three is: 

An employee engagement survey creates workforce engagement. 

Now, this one is my absolute favourite because I hear this all day long. I hear people saying okay our engagement in our organisation is low, let’s start a survey. Let’s create a survey, an engagement survey and that’s great as a first step but we can’t just leave it there and that’s what often people do. 

They go “engagement in the organisation isn’t great. We’re doing engagement survey. We’ll wait a little while for it to come back and we’ll have solved what we need to” and that’s not true. 

And by the way the pictures on this are not in line with the text. I don’t know what’s happened. But there is an ambulance down here and I know my colleagues from Bristol ambulance on so I think that was just a sign! 

Engagement surveys are effective for measuring the mood and the concerns of the employee but it’s what you do next which is the crucial part in terms of engagement. So a really good analogy is, if you went to the doctor and you had your blood pressure taken and they said, you know, you’ve got a bit of an issue here, your blood pressure is too high. And you said okay and then you came back 12 months later and you had your blood pressure measured again and you didn’t do anything differently and it was too high again. And then you went a third year…

Engagement surveys are effective for measuring the mood and the concerns of the employee but it’s what you do next which is the crucial part in terms of engagement.

And this is often what happens with engagement surveys. We take the pulse of the organisation and we go “that’s great”. And then we take it the next year and we take it the next year and we don’t actually do anything between those surveys and this is where a lot of the disengagement is actually caused from. If you find it hard for your colleagues to participate in your engagement surveys it’s often a sign that what’s happened is over time, you’ve taken a lot of information from them, not communicated back, not engaged with them and they’ve got to the point when they go “what is the point of this survey? I’ve told you how I feel year on year and nothing’s really changed”. 

So engagement surveys can create engagement, when you do the second part and this is where they’re not just a tool by themselves, now particularly in the NHS, know that engagement surveys happen in October. There’s the big staff survey and six months later, you’re getting the results and your work and often the engagement strategies is then created based on what your people said six months ago because it takes that long for the survey results to be presented to you.

Now this is a real big no-no, I understand why people do it, and it does give you a little bit of an indicator of how your Workforce are feeling but things can dramatically shift within six months.

How do you find a survey tool that gives you live feedback? This is something we’re really, really hot at Ryalto. We like to have engagement surveys where you can get live feedback. So the second you put it out and someone responds – you’ve got that feedback. And then how do you communicate and engage back to your Workforce about this? Checking the pulse of your organisation but not doing anything actually creates further disengagement and it’s something I hear so many people saying “oh, well, I did a survey. Why would my work not be engaged?”.

Well, it’s the next part. There’s also a real risk of survey fatigue; asking people constantly to fill in surveys, but you’re not doing anything with that information, your Workforce will get really badly survey fatigued. What we we do really well here at Ryalto is; we have this live news feed and we take what our employees are saying and we directly go back to them. So, for example, if an employee says “I don’t think you care about my well-being very much” then the next week the team can present well-being content directly on the newsfeeds so they go straight back to that employee. 

They’ll often surface the results as well. You said this is what you said. This is what we’re doing about it. Here’s a video of a CEO saying “You know what? I’m really disappointed to hear that lots of you think that there’s no career progression in this organisation. Here’s what we’re doing right now to make that different for you and you’ll find that there’s training dates coming out next week, live on Ryalto for you to book on to, so you can get to the next level in your career.” 

So it’s that live feedback – that’s what creates engagement; sending out big action plans with all the results to your Workforce – that doesn’t create engagement – but listening and then, at the right time, going back to them and what you’re doing about it is where the engagement comes from. 

I’ve also seen people say actually a lot of these things we can’t solve, you know, they’re outside of our budget. We can’t solve all of these problems. Engaging your employees in that conversation to say “We can’t do all of these things, we could do three though. What do you want those three to be?” post survey is where that engagement really comes to life. So an employee engagement survey by itself won’t create engagement what you do after really will.

And all of this all those three myths kind took me into a bit of a disengagement cycle.

So how do we get into a place where 85% of our Workforce are disengaged? And this is the last piece of value I’ll leave you with. 

[…] Everyone thinks, in an organisation, that employee engagement is the HR manager’s job. We all think that and the HR manager says “it’s not all our job”. So they delegate it to the managers and leaders of an organisation who, as we know, aren’t skilled in this area, they’ve  not had any experience and often, if they had, they are following leaders from before and we are just in this disengagement cycle and then both parties go “Well, we didn’t really know what to do, so we’ll do an engagement survey”.

The engagement survey results go back to the HR manager, the HR manager delegates to the leader, and you go around in this cycle of disengagement. 

When at each point there’s something different we could do! 

My recommendation as I leave you here is to work with an expert who knows how to do this. Find somebody who is an engagement expert. 

The reason we’ve got the Q&A after is that you’ve got 15 minutes to ask the experts those questions. 

Work with your HR team to create those initiatives and back it up with really good engagement. And when you do a staff engagement survey, make sure you’re engaging back with the workforce about those results so that they feel engaged, not only completing the survey, but the steps that are taken afterwards. 


So that is it from me and I’m gonna hand you over to a Q&A with our CEO Jon Bennett, who’s just put his camera on. I’m gonna stop sharing so we can read the question box, but Jon do you want to quickly introduce yourself?

Jon Bennett (JB)

Thank you Gemma. My name is Jon Bennett as you’ve nicely introduced me, I’m the CEO here at Ryalto, with  22 years in Workforce Solutions and engagement. I am very happy to help answer some questions and thank you Gemma for inviting me.

GB: You’re ever so welcome. So I will get started with the first question. I can see in the box. I’m going to keep these Anonymous just because it might encourage people to ask more questions if they don’t think they’re being named. So the first question, Jon, is:

Do we find any pushback from people installing Ryalto on their personal phones?

JB: Okay. Yeah, I mean you’ll recognize that question Gemma. That’s probably the most frequently asked question we get, especially in the sales process, and, you know, the answer is no. So let’s skip straight to the answer. No, we definitely don’t and why don’t we? So we’ve now got a number of customers with 74 across the NHS, we work with most of the big private hospitals. We’ve got a lot of data on this. Why don’t we? Well the first thing is, of course, we provide massive amounts of help. I say we but Gemma, it’s the Royal we, your team works for that customer to make sure there’s a plan to get those users on the phone. 

And what’s that based around? Well, the facts are, Ryalto is for the workforce. It’s not really for the leadership team or for the organisation. The benefit is for the workers. So as long as we help those workers understand it’s for them, it’s not for the company, it’s not for the leaders, it’s for them. It’s to get them that stuff, access to engaging content, access to information, access to protocols, access to leaders, access to each other. That’s why we’re giving it to them if they can see the benefits.

The benefit is for the workers.

We now know we often get 80% of the users on the app very, very quickly because they know it’s for them and they’ve got access to the content they haven’t previously had. Again working with Frontline workers, these folks aren’t at computers. They don’t have the experience we have as desk workers. So we’re giving them that information, that insight, to their own mobile phones. They don’t have work devices, so it pretty much has to be their own phone. Everybody got access to that content. And of course the other big factor is, it gives them their phones back. So we now know speaking to these workers that they are getting some of this pushed to them, but it’s normally through something like WhatsApp or there being asked to access Facebook and corporate Facebook pages on their own phones that blurs into their social life. 

So they’re kind of being asked to do anyway, but it’s a big mishmash of social and work. With Ryalto, we keep work for work and social for social so they actually say they get their phones back. They’re not losing their phones. They’ve got phones back for their social life. When they’re not in work mode they can actually sign out of Ryalto anyway, so 80% plus workers and we never really have a problem.

With Ryalto, we keep work for work and social for social

GB: Thanks, Jon. So true. That’s the question we get asked the most and probably the thing that is probably the easiest thing for us. We don’t deal with that often in terms of any worries from the workforce. The next question and one of the comments we always get in our staff survey is that:

Leadership isn’t visible, how can we help with that?

JB: Let’s think about our customers but let’s first of all think about us, so we live and breathed Ryalto at Ryalto. So we have an absolute ban on all social media messaging systems and the way that we will connect and stay together is via our own version of Ryalto. We’re a hundred percent remote organisation. So pretty much most of our folks work at home. That’s across the whole of the UK, Romania, Egypt and some people in the US and so we are remote based workers. I think, Gem and maybe to put you on the spot and ask you, we all still pretty feel pretty connected and that’s because of Ryalto? So personally I use it for video blogs. We have channels that people all about different folks connected like what looks and feels like WhatsApp but dedicated on the Ryalto app. I get to do my video blogs. I’ll get to respond to people’s questions. We have fun and on Ryalto when there’s fun moments. We share pictures. We share bits and pieces from our personal lives as well. So I think that’s what we do to make ourselves visible, Gem. I don’t know whether that’s the experience you have as one of the team.

GB: Absolutely, so for me I can message Jon at any point during the day which, is weird to have that access to your CEO really, in terms of being able to just quickly shoot them a message and Jon will come back to me straight away. And yesterday I think it was “Hi Gem. I will get back to you, just in a finance meeting, but I’ll come back to you later” that kind of one to one quick engagement with all of the leadership team at Ryalto, which I think is because we have this app for work, which means you don’t really feel like you’re bothering somebody I can shoot a quick message and we have this culture with all of our team. I think that it’s very visible, leaders are on the news feed, they’re talking to us, they’re giving updates and they’re also asking us for feedback – what you think guys? Should we do it like this? And so I think that really works.

JB: And if we overlay that into our customers, in the Ryalto team we have 20 odd people, most of our customers have over 5,000 people. So the leadership teams there are managing huge populations of, mostly, Frontline mobile workers and they’re going to want information. They’re going to want to connect with the leadership team at different times. It’s a 24/7, 365 operation is care. So the ability of those leaders to better put content on there, which is very personal, very easy to connect with, easy to digest, you know, that our workers love videos versus text for example – easy to record and easy to upload that the Workforce have got access to on their own time. Sometimes, they are on Wards, where they can’t touch their phones, so they have to wait for a break. Sometimes they’re working nights, weekends. Well, of course they are and they can still get that content which, if we’re relying on traditional methods, probably isn’t the case.

GB: Absolutely. Thank you so much! Right question directly for you Jon Bennett. 

How can Ryalto improve engagement?

JB: Brilliant. So how does it improve the engagement? Well actually, it underpins your engagement program. So let’s make that super clear, Ryalto in itself, as a technology doesn’t solve it. It has to sit as part of your engagement strategy and we can absolutely help with that as well. It allows you to mobilise and deliver that engagement strategy.

Ryalto allows you to mobilise and deliver that engagement strategy.

More specifically we’ve got the news feed right? The news feed is extremely targeted. It’s a curated set of news and information for every single worker. Most of our customers are producing engaging content, producing something within their engagement plans, but that’s not landing with the workforce because it’s going out on PDFs, it’s going out on emails, it’s going out on posters that isn’t digested or consumed in the ways that the organisation wanted to. So the effort is going into create it, but sometimes maybe it’s not optimised and we can help with that as well through your consultancy services Gem, but even if it’s not optimised it’s still not getting digested. The news feed allows us to push that to the workforce. They pick it up. They absorb it in their own time. We can report on it, so we can let the organisations know exactly who’s read what, when they read it, how they read it and what they did next. So we’re really facilitating that supply of the engagement strategy through their own mobile device. That’s step number one, then of course, we’ve got the messenger and again we use this. You’ve just used a great example, Gem, of where you and I were messaging and thank you for doing that in the finance meeting, I was starting to nod off, so I appreciated that.

Absolutely the messenger, we know that the workers want to be connected to each other. We know they want to be connected to leaders. That’s why they’re using tools like WhatsApp and SMS even though that’s a very blurred line of social versus work.

We provide them with the messenger. It looks and feels like a social tool. We’ve got a directory which connects them to each other without having to run around collecting mobile numbers and that create that sense of belonging. You have to have a general culture of working together and having access to each other but once you’ve got that general culture, Ryalto underpins it and enables you to deliver that strategy through a digital platform, which is lacking, in my experience, today across many Healthcare and Care facilities.

GB: Thanks Jon, got another one on the Q&A today

I can see that Ryalto has Post Surveys. How can they help with the next steps and do they provide support in next steps support?

JB: Yeah, great. You want me to take that? 

GB: Yeah, you can start and I’ll chip in.

JB: Yeah, great spot whoever that is, they’ve been on our website! 

We can run surveys directly in the app and that’s really important. Right? Because how do we get busy Frontline care and healthcare workers giving us feedback in today’s market? They’re not going to go and sit in front of a computer and fill out a survey at their own desk. We’re not allowed to hand out paper surveys anymore. That’s all been banned since the pandemic but we can surface a really nice targeted pulse survey in the Ryalto app that they can just complete even through their standard login. So no more passwords or anything needed. The person who’s asked the question is spotted the critical thing here. It’s all very well getting the data. How do we actually help respond to that? 

So absolutely, Gemma, you and your team can help with that but sometimes it’s very specialist and we do have a number of partners that we’re very proud to be working with. So if a particular challenge is a specialist challenge. It’s a very bespoke program. We’ve got our friends and family group of experts that can come along and help build a program of change. Of course you can then measure that change through Ryalto over a defined period of time. I’ve probably missed things, Gem, so help me out.

GB: No, I think you’ve covered most of it there. So actually it’s that piece around – we’ll help you to monitor that, we will give you examples and templates of how to communicate that and push that back on the news feed for your Workforce. Then we’ll work with you to create that engagement strategy back through Ryalto to work with some of those challenges that might come out, but also celebrate the things that have gone well in your survey and to say back to the workforce – you know what we’ve got this really well, you know, everyone’s saying this is going really well and being able to have that conversation around how do you make that better? You know it’s great but how do we make even better? How do we sustain this? And so it’s just keeping that two way conversation going outside of the survey, which I think Ryalto really helps with. 

JB: And that’s really important. I think one of the things that is key to say here as well as we can also keep your Finance Director happy with this, because what we can do is connect some of those improvements directly back to financial Return on Investment. Gem, you and I will were in with an organisation last week that said if we can just stop ten nurses leaving through this program, we will save fifty thousand pounds in recruitment and onboarding fees, fifty thousand pounds for 10 and can imagine most 5,000 personal organisations lose more than 10 nurses a year. So just by shaving off ten of them, they’ve saved £50,000 pounds. They worked out if they could hire an extra 20 people through their refer a friend program through Ryalto – they would save £70,000 a year. So through these changes – yes, they are important HR and cultural improvements, but we can also keep your finance people happy as well by directly apportioning these improvements to financial return on investment, which is really important more than ever right now because of the financial strains on our systems.

GB: Amazing. We haven’t got another question but we have got a comment saying it’s great to see that it’s being acknowledged that managers do not always know how to do it, absolutely need to ensure you’re seeking the right support for engagement. And I think that’s such a true point so and great to see that acknowledged and it’s not a manager’s fault, you know, we don’t know how to achieve it, how do we do it?

RS: That’s great. Well, then thank you very for everyone attending and some really good questions there. I think it gave you an opportunity to really dig deeper into Ryalto than is possible in the normal 15 minutes.

I think finally it would be a good idea just to say how people who are on the webinar or are going to receive the recording of this webinar can get in touch with you to continue the conversation. How would people get in touch with you Gemma?

GB: You can connect with me on LinkedIn Gemma Bullock*, or you can email me. So it’s really simple gemma.bullock@ryaltogroup.com. So get in touch,  I’d love to answer any more questions, pop on a call with you, talk about what we do would be great too. And I know Jon feels the same. So hand over to him for his contact details.

Yeah exactly the same I’m a bit of a social media beast. So very happy to connect on LinkedIn* really happy to and always pick up my messages through there. And then I’m jon.bennett@ryaltogroup.com and there’s also a really simple form on our website which gets monitored by a whole team. So if you need us don’t fail to connect because we’d love to talk to you.

RS: Brilliant. Yeah, let’s continue the conversation. Thank you very much then to everyone and we will see you in the next webinar.

All: Thank you.

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