Raising Workplace Engagement in the Modern VUCA world

One of the most challenging issues facing the Human Resources function in 2017 is creating an Engagement Strategy across the organisation that takes into account the increasingly "fluid" world that we live in. There are many competing socio-economic levers that are making it harder to predict the future direction of a business and its customers and therefore how the workforce will be structured and optimally engaged.
In the UK, some of these current factors include: 

  • The uncertainty around the UK leaving the EU - "Brexit"
  • The intensity and potential instability of the global political climate
  • The shortening of tenure a worker stays in a job - "the gig economy"
  • The lack of skills in critical roles within the business
  • The pressure to raise productivity from rising cost inflation
  • The need to evolve the internal HR skillset as the function moves towards big data analytics

 So how do we raise engagement and commitment to brand loyalty during so much change in the workplace?
To me, the easiest way to start to deal with this is to break down this challenge into manageable chunks and then rebuilt into an overarching strategy. This "huge change" can be conveniently addressed using the acronym VUCA. For those of you who need a reminder, VUCA is: 

  • Volatility - the liability to change rapidly and unpredictably
  • Uncertainty - desired outcomes are in doubt due to external factors
  • Complexity - an intricate relationship of many interconnected parts and variables
  • Ambiguity - a situation open to many interpretations - unknown unknowns

If HR and Senior Leadership look at strategies to overcome the workforce concerns of each of these areas then your people are more likely to be committed to your organisation than others, engaged and retained.
How you deal with each of these is different, however there are some common themes.
In the case of Volatility and Uncertainty, this often manifests in people as a fear of the future unknowns. This lack of knowledge of the future can lead to rumours and untruths being listened to more internally within the organisation.
As a parallel, if we look at the current general population, as the world becomes less predictable and more unstable then untruths are being believed often above facts!
Proactive actions here should focus on leadership, obtaining regular feedback and communication.

Listen to underlying concerns.
If something unpredictable happens, check in with your people and listen to the underlying feeling. Pulse surveys, focus groups, line manager feedback can give you valuable data about levels of engagement.
Respond in a human way.
Openly respond to concerns and comments with an approachable style. A stage managed approach doesn't work anymore in 2017. People openly challenge and disbelieve scripted speeches. The recent UK elections showed a massive swing from May to Corbyn, substantially based on the style of messaging in uncertain times.
Line managers need to be positive leaders.
In times of volatility and uncertainty, team members look to their manager for clues on "how bad it is". Leadership, focusing on Emotional Intelligence and the understanding that everyone is different, is imperative here. If the business has done everything right to this point but the behaviour and language of the line manager is not in sync with the central message then there will be distrust leading to dropping motivation and engagement.
Develop an adaptive mindset.
Having an ongoing positive communication strategy is key for readiness for change. Celebrating the achievement of positive change and reinforcing the benefits that have happened this year versus last year is a great way of fostering a culture that is resilient to uncertainty when it arises. A resilient workforce will more likely see an opportunity from change. Too often great change projects are lost in the mists of time and people forget how much better it is in the present than the past.
In essence, Engagement comes back to great leadership, excellent listening strategies and open, honest communication. In the VUCA world this needs to be honed into proactive development ready for uncertainty.
Complexity and Ambiguity bring separate challenges for HR and Business Leaders.
If you want to know more, Tap'd Solutions is running a Webinar on the topic of Raising Engagement in the Modern VUCA world on Wednesday 20th September at 12:30pm where the topics above will be discussed in addition to many more ideas for HR Leaders to draw new thinking and actions from.
If you want to listen in to this conversation then click the link to register for the webinar:  www.tapdsolutions.com/webinars2017

Anthony Ryland is Co-Founder and Managing Director of Tap'd Solutions - the HR Consultancy focused on the Future of Work and the Future of HR.

What Neuroscience tells us about increasing our team’s engagement

In my current role, I have been reading more and more about Neuroscience and its application in the world of business for some time now, and it has struck me how underutilised this field is by organisations. In the area of Engagement especially.

Neuroscience itself is a very complex scientific specialism, that takes many years of study to understand. However, some of the basic knowledge of how the brain and nervous system works can help Managers, Leaders and HR understand how people respond to their environment and those around them, and therefore how they become engaged…or not. This knowledge can be applied to an organisational context and improve engagement in individuals, teams and ultimately, the entire Business, – increasing motivation, productivity and impacting the bottom line.


It seems that engagement all too often boils down to a yearly “engagement survey” and then an action plan is produced concentrating on addressing areas which show the lowest level of engagement or where employees aren’t as engaged as they were in previous years.

But rather than asking how engaged employees are, it strikes me that the question should be why - why are the employees engaged and what is engaging them? Why were they engaged before and they aren’t as engaged now? Why are they responding to their environment the way they are? Why are different employees engaged to a greater or lesser degree than others?

The definition of Neuroscience has expanded as the understanding of the complexity of the brain has expanded – but in essence it is the study of the nervous system and the brain. The two communicate constantly and the messages are carried by neurotransmitters and hormones. Understanding what triggers the different neurotransmitters and hormones, and the impact they have on the brain, is a relatively simple way for Managers to adapt their behaviour so that they have a positive impact on their employees – knowingly triggering the neurotransmitters and hormones that increase positive feelings and, therefore, engagement.

The 5 Factors to increase Engagement

In terms of engagement, there appears to be 5 factors that come up again and again in discussions which Managers should focus on to increase the engagement of their employees.

An understanding of Neuroscience would help the Manager to appreciate why these factors are important and what is actually happening inside their own brain and the brain of each of their employees to make these factors so important. Put simply:

1.    Fairness and Trust – the neurotransmitter Dopamine controls the reward system in our brain and it is also essential for physical motivation. If people feel they are being trusted and treated fairly, Dopamine is released and they feel rewarded and motivated – both physically and mentally. Managers who actively demonstrate trust in their employees will also find they are being seen as trustworthy by their employees as the reward system triggers reciprocal feelings. 

2.    Interacting – people who feel their manager knows and understands them – their likes and dislikes, motivations and turn offs – will also feel rewarded because they feel that their manager is interacting with them on a more personal level, and therefore release Dopamine. Feeling misunderstood or ignored, however, is more likely to lead to confusion and a stress reaction – when the hormone Noradrenaline comes into play. Certain levels of this hormone can be useful and help with vigilance and learning. However, higher levels result in feelings of stress. So, Managers who actively interact with, get to know, learn about and listen to their employees will have a higher chance of triggering Dopamine production and activating the reward system in the employee’s brain.

3.    Autonomy – enabling people to work the way that suits them best and giving them the opportunity to make decisions will result in them being able to deliver their best. This is because people like to feel in control of themselves and what happens to them – different people have different working styles, different times of the day or different situations when they’re at their best. Giving them the ability to feel in control of their environment results in feelings of calm and optimism - triggered by hormones such as endorphins and the feel-good neurotransmitter Serotonin. Employees who are calm and in control are more likely to be engaged and deliver.

4.    Feelings and social connectivity – as many people will tell you, human beings are social creatures first and foremost. People like to feel part of the group, not ostracised or left out as this can result in what has been described as ‘social pain’ which triggers the same response in the brain as physical pain. When people say their feelings are hurt, they are actually describing a similar neural response as they would experience if they were physically hurt……...people remember pain and are not quick to forget. A Manager who regularly considers how people would feel about what they say or do and the decisions they make, can avoid these painful neural responses and instead activate the feel-good neurotransmitter Serotonin.

5.    Threat – people feel uncertain when they are not sure about their position, feel that things are happening ‘behind their back’ or being ‘done to them’ without their knowledge or consent. Lack of communication can make people feel uncertain. This triggers a threat response in the brain – the classic ‘fight or flight’. When people are in fear or feel threatened the main neurotransmitters released are Dopamine, Norepinephrine, and Epinephrine (adrenaline), glutamate, and serotonin which activate the part of the brain called the Amygdala. The amygdala controls emotional response. In addition, the part of the brain that stores memories (the hippocampus) is activated – so that the experience is stored in the long-term memory.

This is how humans and other organisms with brains learn how to survive and what is friend or foe. Managers who are non-threatening and communicate transparently and regularly with employees can remove the chance of this threat reaction, the emotional outcome and the resulting long-term memory storage of the stressful event.

Balancing the above 5 factors is no easy task, the human brain processes so many different things on a daily basis, triggering different neural responses.

So, employee engagement will be ever-changing. This demonstrates why the measurement of engagement should be a continuous activity, rather than just a yearly activity. 

3 things to Managers can do:

1)    Do some reading about Neuroscience and the basics of how the brain works. I have put a couple of ideas of easy reading below to get you started

2)    Think about the above 5 factors and how you can do things differently with a knowledge of how the brain of each of your employees is reacting to you and the environment around them. Write down one thing you can do to enhance and minimise your impact in this area.

3)    Think about how your engagement strategy, and the measurement of employee engagement in your organisation, can be adapted based on an understanding of why people are engaged…or not. What can you do as a manager to improve engagement in your team now?

A couple of useful starting points:

The SCARF model (D.Rock) – Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness – is often used to describe the 5 factors above. 


Alex Pegg – is an HR, Talent Management & L&D specialist, and Lead Engagement Consultant for Tap’d Solutions

Positions Vacant, or Engaged?

Today’s HR leaders are increasingly focused on improving employee engagement - recognising that a happier, more motivated and productive workforce will have a direct and positive impact on the bottom line.

However, whilst employee engagement can be led by HR, any initiatives will also need to be understood and implemented across all areas of the business if they are to have the desired effect.  So, what is ‘employee engagement’ and how does it fit in with your overall business strategy?

What is Employee Engagement?

A joint report by the CIPD and Kingston Business School – ‘Creating an Engaged Workforce’ - defined employee engagement as “being positively present during the performance of work by willingly contributing intellectual effort, experiencing positive emotions and meaningful connections to other”.  The report also identified 3 dimensions of employee engagement:

How engaged are UK employees?

So based on the above definition, how successful are UK organisations when it comes to ensuring employee engagement?  The CIPD’s research over the last few years indicates that the level has remained fairly stable, with 35- 39% of employees indicating ‘positive engagement’.  Digging deeper, the research found that levels of Affective Engagement were highest, followed by Intellectual Engagement, with Social Engagement the lowest.  Other key insights from the report were as follows:

Is your approach up-to-date?

The kind of insight provided through these statistics can prove invaluable to HR leaders that need to know where to focus their attention – identifying areas of both risk and opportunity.  Increasingly though, organisations are recognising that the traditional annual survey is an ineffective means of gaining this kind of employee insight, with the lack of immediacy and personal contact resulting in a huge drop-out rate and consequently, incomplete and inaccurate data for analysis.  The world we all live and work in has changed dramatically over the last 5 years, with social media in particular meaning that we’re used to providing instant feedback and sharing our thoughts and opinions 24x7.  This becomes particularly important as the next generation of ‘millennials’ enter the workplace, bringing different expectations and preferred ways of working with them.

Is anybody listening?

Millennials are used to transparency and ‘always-on’ engagement, so a new approach is needed to gain their full attention and give them a sense of ownership in driving the business forward. ‘Continuous Listening’ is an approach that represents an evolution in the way that organisations engage, motivate and retain their workforce – taking employee views and ideas into account on an ongoing basis and in a way that can influence and steer business strategy, as opposed to only seeking employee input on a periodic basis.  This does however require that managers can gain on-demand access to performance and engagement data – enabling them to answer questions as they arise and to make real-time adjustments and decisions that will improve results and drive innovation.

Get real-time, in-depth insight

Increasingly, organisations will need the capability for real-time feedback and data analytics that can enable proactive management of employee performance, attrition and engagement.  The most effective systems will also enable predictive analytics – helping HR leaders and line of business managers to stay one step ahead, rather than simply reacting to problems and opportunities as they arise.

Continuous listening, artificial intelligence and machine learning can all help to deliver personalised insights that take more relevant data sources and current opinions into account than would be possible with a manual approach.  But at what cost?

HR is one of the few areas of a business that engages with every individual, which is why bringing technology into HR can have such a dramatic impact on the productivity and profitability of the whole organisation.  Cloud is a key enabler – making it possible and affordable for businesses of any size to access the same level of systems and analytics.

Where should you start?

Whilst the advice and guidance from organisations such as the CIPD is extremely valuable, it’s also important to look beyond ‘best practice’ to discover what actually works for your organisation. 

In this short video interview with Compare the Cloud, I discuss the subject of employee engagement and the positive impact that the right approach can make to your bottom line: 

This article first appeared in The IT Insider magazine

Automation, Termination or Positive Transformation?

Understanding the future of work to understand the future of HR

One of my favourite topics to discuss with other business leaders at the moment is their take on The Future of Work – I put this in capitals as it seems to be revered as a subject at the moment!

It is interesting how the views are quite varied and polarised. The undeniable common theme is that there is definitely a changing world due to technology and the pace of change is increasing. Maybe this is why it is such a “hot topic”. Previously you could rely on university professors to spend 10 years researching this area, or watching the TV show “Tomorrow’s World” and be saying “ooooo” at the screen showing the future amazements of the future.

These days there is a radical shift in technology virtually every year in how we interact with the world. If you jumped back “Doctor Who-style” only 10 years to 2007 you would already notice the difference:

  • No hybrid cars or buses, therefore more pollution in our cities
  • Nobody walking into you as everyone is looking ahead instead of at their phones as they walk along the pavement
  • People asking for directions in cars as satnavs still a rare and expensive technology
  • Food shops at capacity with long queues on Friday nights as online shopping was virtually non-existent
  • People using tiny Nokia phones to “talk” to each other rather than type with their thumbs

So imagine as the pace of technological change increases what 2027 will look like. Views vary from Terminator-style doomsday scenarios to people shunning technology to live simpler lives. But in reality we can extrapolate out 5-10 years with a degree of certainty based on the tech pipeline and people behaviours, not helped by larger political events, I agree.

To understand the impact on HR Professionals, we need to look at consumer habits as this will dictate how work environments will change direct (change in customer shopping habits) or indirectly (bringing how I do things outside work, inside work).

In this article, I propose one of the changes we will experience is that there will be a shift in work towards giving amazing service and the need for highly emotionally intelligent workers.

Let me give a couple of examples where this is happening now:

1)  Out of town fast food outlets

I recently went to an out of town McDonald’s. As you enter you now have a huge touch screen to place your order. You tap on the pictures and select your own unique meal offer in your own time in a smartphone-style way. You tell the system which zone in the restaurant you will sit in and take your receipt, putting it on your table so the employees can see the number.

After a few minutes your food arrives and a very courteous person asks how your day is going, would you like anything else, can I get you some sauces, etc.. Your personal interaction is positive, adding value to make you feel you are special. It is a long way from queuing up and being asked by a bored employee if “you want fries with that”.

McDonald’s has taken the decision to automate the repetitive human tasks and release employees to use their own personality more when interacting with the customer. Yes, I expect that there is a cost reduction element to the project but as a customer I left with a very positive feeling about the brand and its people. However, this only works if the people you interact with you have the right behaviours and skills to empathise and react to each individual customer in the right way.

McDonald’s therefore needs to employ people with high EQ and adaptability for their front of house, rather than who can operate the till fastest – two very different sets of skills.

2)  The Aviation Industry – Economy vs Premium

Recently I flew to The Netherlands and on my return I was intrigued to see the airport had installed automatic bag check-in. With no employee at the station you merely scan your passport and a small bunker opens, you put in your bag, agree you have no forbidden items and it whisks your bag away and gives you your boarding pass.

I knew I had extra leg room as I had pre-selected my seat online. I boarded the plane, was shown a safety video and enjoyed a one hour flight to London, e-checked my passport and collected my bag that had automatically been delivered to my designated luggage reclaim belt where I then got a driverless Pod back to my car in the car park. Bliss! – I had an efficient flight with little human interaction and high automation – expectations met!

However, what if I want to fly Business? I expect an airport lounge with courteous staff greeting me, nice fresh food prepared on site, a tidy lounge with timely clearing of glasses, plates etc. I expect to be met when boarding the plane and a high level of personal service, usually being addressed by my name for the personal touch. From my choice of onboard wines and food I will place my order personally with a crew member and will have pleasant interaction with the cabin crew during the course of my flight. On arrival, if needed, there will be ground crew to help me get to my final destination. The personal touch for a premium service – expectations met!

Again, with automation increasing there is a split appearing between high automation and a certain standard of experience OR there is the premium service which is very individualised with multiple human touchpoints from people who predict your needs and fulfil them before being asked.

Both of these examples show a disappearing “average” experience in the centre and instead producing automated tasks and functions or an intensely personal experience.

So what does this mean for HR and People Leaders?

Engage with your businesses experts

In my view, HR is in the best position to co-ordinate your business into looking forward to predict the impact of the future of work and build the plan to prepare for this, co-ordinating and using the expertise around you:

  • MARKETING – What are the consumer behaviour trends and what is your sector saying about upcoming innovation?
  • SALES/COMMERCIAL – What is the predicted revenue change in the foreseeable future based on these trends and their experience?
  • FINANCE – What are the shareholder expectations, the predicted profit and cashflow demands?
  • CEO/BOARD – What is the future business positioning strategy compared to competitors?

By combining these elements, a future workforce plan can be produced based on these factors. Now overlay the latest thought leadership in people and communication technology. What are the jobs that can be automated? What are the critical customer experience roles? Try to put all employee functions into one box or the other if possible. Then act upon these groupings in different ways by developing your future people plan for your organisation:

  • RESOURCING – What are the critical future roles to develop pipeline and/or enhance your selection processes?
  • LEARNING – Focus budget on non-automated future roles and upskilling around human behaviour
  • REWARD – Review recognition and reward schemes to ensure the right future behaviours are rewarded now
  • COMMS – What stages are needed in the story you need to tell your people as they go through this major transformation
  • HR TEAM – With the rise of technology, data usage and analytics, what skills do you need in your team and therefore what transformation does HR need to undergo to prepare for this.

In summary, use your business experts to predict your unique future business in the world of automation and intense customer experience. Those who do this well will win in the cognitive technology era.

If you want to engage in the debate of The Future of Work then why not register for our Forum event for HR Professionals on Tuesday 4th July.

Strategies everywhere!

"How many consultants does it take to change a lightbulb”? It’s a joke I’m sure you have heard many times! But, similar to this, “how many strategies does an organisation need to be successful?” Just think about it, organisations often have a stream of different strategies for different divisions, departments, markets, scenarios and so on. This multiple range of strategies in itself can create complexity, conflict and possibly indifference which leads to varying levels of disengagement.

Research from a range of sources shows us, that one of the key reasons for people being disengaged is not knowing, and more importantly not understanding, the strategy of their business. Beyond that, engagement drops even further if people are not clear about how their actual role has an impact on the strategy.

Having a clear strategy and knowing how you support it, even if in a small way is a really important part of ensuring your people are engaged. This really comes to life in the story that you have probably heard time and time again: During a visit to the NASA space centre in 1962, President John F. Kennedy noticed a janitor carrying a broom. He interrupted his tour, walked over to the man and said, "Hi, I'm Jack Kennedy. What are you doing?” He replied "Well, Mr. President, "I'm helping put a man on the moon.” This is a great example of someone knowing what they do and why. Absolutely everybody has a role to play in ensuring the espoused business strategy becomes the real one.

So consider, in your organisation, how clear is the key strategy? Also think about, if people are getting mixed messages from all the different strategies that are taking place at the same time. Any organisation should only have one clear, well known, reinforced business strategy.

In our recent Tap’d Solutions Forum, where we discussed engagement and how organisations can raise it, Fiona Ryland, Head of HR for Compass Group delivered an excellent presentation on pragmatic engagement. Her organisation through internal dialogue had finally landed on one key strategy that over arched their whole business: the people strategy IS the business strategy. This, we have heard before through Richard Branson’s well known quote "Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients”.  this makes sense and seems logical, but is often preached rather than practised. Every decision made in the organisation should have a consideration for the impact on its staff. That is not to say that all decisions will be liked, but at minimum an understanding of how it will raise or lower engagement should be considered.

Without a focus on people and making sure they feel stretched yet cared for, with effective and participative leadership, most strategies are doomed for failure.

So please drop your multiple strategies, simplify them to the max and consider as an organisation if your people strategy should really be THE strategy, that drives your organisation forward. We know this works, as our team have been in organisations that have put this into place. 

If you would like to discuss with us our experience in creating a people first business strategy, simply reach out.

Andi Roberts - Senior Account Executive - Learning, Tap'd Solutions

What is an engagement strategy?

The million-dollar question; or is it?
I have been asked this several times recently - what is a true engagement strategy? 
Companies run annual surveys, is that it? Is that engagement? Is that enough?
In simplistic terms your engagement strategy is your People strategy. After all if, as an HR function, we are doing activities that are not linked to improving the engagement of our people, should we be doing them?

Engagement is about stretching the thinking of your senior leaders; ensuring your frontline and middle managers are developing their people to be the best they can be and thus creating productive teams; it’s about building a virtuous circle of continuous listening; it’s about caring for your people and more.
We need to help our leaders to understand what engagement truly is. We need to ensure the people strategy is embedded within the business strategy of an organisation. It’s the only way to drive improved business performance.
Easier said than done?
Come and join us on Thursday the 9th March in London, where we’ll be discussing this very topic at our next Tap’d Solutions Forum. We’re delighted to have Fiona Ryland, HR Director for the UK and Ireland at Compass Group and Liz Macann, former Head of Executive, Leadership and Management Coaching at the BBC, who will be sharing their experiences on how they were able to drive true engagement in their organisations.

Want to learn more about Tap’d Solutions and why we’re different?

Recently I was interviewed on the subject of engagement and my thinking in this area. Hear how Tap'd could help your organisation maximise the impact your people can make to your customers and bottom line. 


Engaging the “gig economy” workforce

As always, there is a new term that is being banded around by the media – the “gig economy”. So what is the “gig economy”, who are the “gig workforce” and finally, why should you care?

A quick background:

The term “gig” in this context seems to have arisen in 2009 for unemployed workers who turned to casual or self-employed work to make ends meet following the financial crash the preceding year. It takes its name from rock bands who would turn up in a town and play for a few nights to “do a gig”, who in turn took the name from 1920’s Jazz musicians, who probably used it from someone else!

Initially these people were trying to make ends meet after losing their jobs. Yet now this way of working is increasing in popularity as people try to achieve their own work and personal life goals in balance while maintaining a sufficient income. Classic recent examples in the news include Uber, Deliveroo and TaskRabbit.

This gig workforce is growing rapidly and, as leaders in Human Resources, we need to adapt quickly to this changing workforce if we are to engage our people as we have done in the past.

In this ever more complex organisational culture, how do we make all feel included in our organisation’s mission and values proposition?

Let’s think of the needs of a “gig” worker…

The majority of motivators are no different between regular employees and more casual workers, however these needs often manifest themselves in different ways:

1) They need to be onboarded and brought up to speed quickly and smoothly – so they can be productive ASAP, as often they are there for only a limited time.
2) They need to feel they are equal to others around them and not feel like they are in some way inferior to employed staff – i.e. they have a voice, they take part in company rituals, feel like they add to the overall culture and are not outside of it.
3) A gig worker needs their flexibility appreciated by the organisation, not just put up with – they often have other jobs and/or commitments external to the organisation that can conflict with the expectation of total flexibility from the employer.
4) As they are gig workers, their tenure is usually limited so they need to be able to exit the company positively, smoothly and quickly with an ability to gain references without delays for their next “gig”.

How can the Human Resources function better support and equip a “gig” worker?

Firstly, source your gig workers well


An “on demand” potential workforce needs nurturing. These potential candidates are often more transient than long-term employees and therefore need more to be attracted to your organisation. Many companies now are using adapted CRM tools to “keep warm” pools of potential workers. This used to be restricted to succession planning for your most senior roles, yet now it is more prevalent for roles where workers are needed at short notice and in volume. 

To do this without causing the overload of extra work you need to automate your recruitment and selection processes. This can include:

- Using Resourcing CRM tools to have a pool of talent ready that are periodically made contact with through social media.
- Using job board clustering to get your company brand out to multiple touchpoints to make maximum recruitment impact.
- Having robust selection processes with automated assessment and/or video recruitment stages so recruiting managers only get involved when they are needed.

Secondly, ensure you get real time and relevant feedback from ALL your people

Pulse and poll survey tools have now come of age to support any annual census. If a proportion of your workers are with you for short discrete periods then your annual survey’s relevance is limited.

However, make sure that the data from your pulse and poll survey is compatible to your annual survey. This data is like pure gold. With the rise of true analytics in HR this data can be mined for sentiment and linked to job performance, leadership levels and remuneration for greater insight. Ensure you have a tool that can do all of this so you can include your gig workers feedback into your Engagement Strategy.

Finally, more than ever the leakage and loss of knowledge is becoming paramount to organisations

As we know, every time a worker leaves a company, knowledge is lost. If we now have a workforce where we know a large proportion will leave soon then this is a burning issue. There are great examples out there where organisations have realised this and separated knowledge into what can be written and what can’t be written down.

This latter area is the “leakage”. For example, we can read about how to do a weld, but we need to keep the learned skill from the skilled existing welder who can do a “perfect” weld. Or how do we retain the knowledge of your best sales person who seems to always win the deal? This “knack” is what makes your organisation better than your competition.

This knowledge retention activity is critical for all organisations, but ESPECIALLY if it has a larger proportion of gig workers.

While Governments struggle with how to legislate and protect gig workers, we in HR can lead the way in ensuring we maximise the benefits of this relationship on both sides.

So in summary…

Three ways you can embrace the gig economy and make it a success for your organisation:

1)  Smarten your recruitment and selection processes to find potential gig talent and nurture it.

2)  ENGAGEMENT:  Enhance your feedback mechanisms to be relevant and timely with pulse and poll surveys – AND make sure all your valuable data is mined for insight!

3)  Find ways to retain the type of non-written knowledge that will “leak out” your organisation with a gig workforce and increasing labour turnover.

Thank you for reading!

Anthony Ryland

"The Game of Unknowns" continued - Identifying and Nurturing Leadership Potential

This week Tap'd are pleased to welcome Keran Dhillon from IBM Kenexa to be our Guest Blogger. Keran takes the "Game of Unknowns" theme and looks at the psychology of leadership potential and what we, as HR Professionals, can do to identify and nurture this...

Possibility can grow in the space of uncertainty...


To illustrate this think of a seed which is both fragile and has immense potential to grow into something beautiful and inspiring. As taught in biology, with the right conditions, it can grow to be an empowering tall tree or a beautiful plant that bears fruit, vegetables or flowers. However, a seed grows in its own time, at its own pace, to its highest potential. For that seed to reach its best, it needs nurturing, protection, attention and support. Indeed, we as human beings are no different.

When we think of this in the context of human behaviour in the workplace, we know that when choosing the right talent for the right job and organisation it is a combination of measuring capacity (innate ability and preference), culture fit (internal values) and capability (learned behaviours). Therefore, if an individual has the innate preferences and demonstrates potential and is in the right environment, all it requires to be successful is the right development, coaching and training to learn and grow to its potential and thrive.

Daenerys Targaryen (Copyright: HBO)

Daenerys Targaryen (Copyright: HBO)

A great example of this is Daenerys “Queen of Dragons” star of the hit US series Game of Thrones, who displays innate preferences and potential to lead, however with the various influences of individuals throughout the seasons it is clear that her leadership style has evolved and will continue to do so as she discovers that birth right alone is not enough: The respect and loyalty she earns by choice, rather than force, is far more powerful and enduring.

What makes Daenerys a Great Leader?

However, despite birthright, appointment or tenure; leaders lead! But why do they lead and why do others follow? 

IBM’s research into high performing leaders spans over 30 years, and is driven by our independent research institute – the IBM Smarter Workforce Institute. Our insight into the organisational culture, the drivers of engagement and the leadership behaviours that drive high performance in organisations is unparalleled.

The IBM Leadership methodology is based on research conducted in conjunction with London Business School and Princeton University. The research originally focused on identifying the underlying factors that seemed to be accelerating the differentiation between high performing and other organisations - What the researchers found was a series of factors that differentiated the high performing group of successful individuals and organisations. The core behaviours include; business thinking, inspiring people, developing people and achieving success.

These behaviours are evident in Daenerys and exemplify why she is a natural born leader. She has proven to turn adversity into opportunity and showcased critical thinking, making sense of chaos and being innovative with her ideas through the series. Furthermore, she surrounds herself with the wisest advisers possible. She listens to everyone’s input before making her decision and collaborates knowledge and experience of her advisers. Finally, during her campaign to conquer, Daenerys makes it a point to listen to be available for her people, support them through the chaos and develop them so they can survive the uncertainty lying ahead.

What can organisations learn from this?

There are a number of lessons to take away from this;

  1. For any businesses that is going through uncertainty and change it is crucial to assess and recruit talent with leadership potential regardless of  experience and job level.
  2. Invest the time and money to develop and nourish talent with leadership potential no matter how young or inexperienced, to ensure the business is in safe hands in the future and that employees are engaged, retained and productive to drive business success. 
  3. Succession planning is imperative for all executives and they should think about assessing potential across the organisation to ensure organisational survival in a globally competitive environment.
  4. Invest in the Millennial talent pool and profit from millennial desires for innovation and societal change, as a large percentage of the future workforce will be generation Y and therefore, future leaders.

What is the impact of leadership success on business outcomes?

Great leaders like Daenerys have shown great influence on her devotees who are committed and loyal and act upon any command of hers whilst also taking initiative. This is similar to the workplace whereby IBM research shows great leaders drive employee engagement and impacts customer service, retention and overall business performance. If employees are engaged they themselves will devote time to the workplace out of hours and show commitment to be successful.

What can I do to enable this?

A great way to start is to use our off the shelf IBM Kenexa Leadership assessments, designed specifically to identify leadership potential, preferences, motivations and behaviours. These can be used as a recruitment tool, but also equally as effective as a development tool to ensure the workforce are equipped to deal with uncertainty and change and drive business performance.

Just like great warriors, who start preparing and planning years before the battle, we need to prepare now to make our businesses prepared and ready for the times ahead.

Contact me, or other members of Tap’d Solutions, to start equipping your business for success in the uncertainty and tough times of the next few years, through the "Game of Unknowns".


Keran Dhillon, Assessment Specialist, IBM Kenexa

Keran Dhillon, Assessment Specialist, IBM Kenexa

Keran's role within IBM Kenexa is to offer organisations the theoretical, practical and commercial understanding of the importance of investing in and measuring human capital and to optimise business success through the use of behavioural science, data and analytics.

Keran's background is as a business psychologist with client facing experience with a range of FTSE 100 companies solving an array of business challenges using science and workforce analytics.

"The Game of Unknowns" - 1 way HR can prepare for Brexit uncertainty

It’s all gone a bit quiet…

There we were with our apocalyptic thoughts after the Brexit vote on the morning of June 24th staring into the abyss of the unknown, yet the 4 horsemen have not arrived…as yet. We know that big changes are ahead as Article 50 will be enacted like a ticking timebomb of indecision. The underlying uncertainty building as the UK commences the years of change and transformation.

Copyright: HBO

Copyright: HBO

“Winter is coming...”

So, what do we do as HR Professionals and People Leaders? How do we prepare a business for upcoming turbulence in the market when we don’t know what it looks like and how disruptive it will be?
Politicians, think tanks, quangos, your CEO, they all have predictions based from gut feel to detailed modelling, but no-one really knows until the reality of Brexit finally materialises.

Copyright: HBO

Copyright: HBO

“Winter is coming...”

So let us take the lead and helping our business get fit and ready for the “Olympic-sized” effort ahead. What is it we can start doing now that will strengthen our business? 

Well. let’s get back to basics. What makes a business survive when the one next to it fails?

Where does your business make its money?

What is it you provide by means of a product or service directly to the customer? Is this customer the end user? Or maybe another business entity? Either way your business exists because it has customers. It doesn’t matter how far removed from them you are within the organisation, your job relies on having customers. Without them, no-one is employed.

So, with the knowledge that turbulence is coming from possible hard economic transitions, retaining customers and attracting new customers is even more critical than usual. Potentially fewer customers spending less means there won’t be enough money to go around.

So how can we strategise for this?

Answer: Equip your business with the talent to retain your key customers and acquire new ones.

Customer retention protects your business. Finding and upskilling the right account management and customer service people for your business now with strengthen and maintain the bond with your customers as relationships are strained in tough economic times.

New customers will offset any spend per customer shrinkage. Having the right skills to attract new business to your organisation will create an “injection” of revenue in tough times.

What can I do to enable this?

A great way to start is to use IBM predictive assessments, designed specifically to identify Sales or Customer Service effectiveness. These can be used as a recruitment tool, but also equally as effective as a development tool. Once you know you have the right traits in your sales and customer service talent then you can move forward to ensure they understand your business and your products.

All this can take time so don’t delay, waiting to react to tougher times when they arrive. If you do, these “business growth” activities get swallowed up in the cost-cutting mindset of tough times. 

Act now. Just like Olympic athletes, who start preparing 4 years before the day they need to perform, we need to prepare now to make our businesses resilient to the times ahead.

Contact me, or other members of Tap’d Solutions, to start equipping your business for success in tough times.

“Winter is coming...” but I'll be ready, preparing in the local snowdome!

Announcing the IBM Kenexa Roadshow 2016, enabled by Tap'd Solutions

We are pleased to announce today the upcoming IBM Kenexa Roadshow 2016, brought to you by Tap'd Solutions.

Following on from the hugely successful HR Summit in June, IBM Kenexa and Tap'd Solutions are taking to the road over the coming months. By ensuring IBM Kenexa are always “continuously conversing” with key professionals in their sectors, our aim is to help you and IBM Kenexa understand the people needs for the future.

With the rapidly changing business and landscape in the UK in 2016, never has it been more important to come together as HR and Business Leaders to share experiences in key people topics to get the best insight you can for critical workforce decisions in the next few years as the impact of Brexit materialises into tangible economic change.
So we would like to invite you to come and meet us and other like-minded people on our upcoming UK roadtrip. We have created Roundtables around the theme of how to “find, develop and listen to your people better - to engage and boost results”.

These roundtables are brought to you through a partnership between IBM Kenexa, the leading HR Cloud solution provider, and Tap'd Solutions, a strategic HR Consultancy and IBM Business Partner.

Our series of three Roundtables are:




We will be running these Roundtables in London, the Midlands and the North of England. Places are limited to a maximum of 10 per Roundtable to ensure an interactive and informal event.

Anthony Ryland, Director at Tap'd and one of the roundtable facilitators, commented "These roundtables are a great way to share your experiences whilst getting new insight from like-minded HR professionals about the key topics that motivate your people - is my company listening to me?, what is my future path? and how can I grow myself? Come and join us and invest a couple of hours of your time to understand what's really happening on the ground in organisations to tangibly combat these needs".

Read more about each Roundtable and register at www.tapdsolutions.com/ibmroadshow2016 or click on the button below: