Employee Engagement and Recognizing Talent with Matt Manners [Podcast]

In this episode of the HRchat podcast, Bill Banham interviews Matt Manners, Founder of The Employee Engagement Awards & Conference which are hosted in the UK, US and Australia.

Bill and Matt discuss why it is important to recognize, reward and grow top performers. About Matt Manners: Matt’s mission is to recognize and celebrate the ‘people-companies’ who remake the way organizations think about and engage people to achieve their purpose. Matt helps educate the industry and economies worldwide to deliver a better employee experience. – to shine a light and celebrate the great work that was being ignored and to help educate those seeking to improve.


Read the full transcription:

Bill Banham: Welcome to another edition of HRchat Podcast. I’m your host, Bill Banham, and today I am joined by Matt Manners. Matt Manners is the founder and CEO of the Employee Engagement Awards. In just two short years, Matt has reached four continents with his awesome events program. He is driven to improve businesses by putting people at the heart of them. Matt is a huge believer in getting more from your people through better engagement. Matt, welcome to HRchat Podcast.

Matt Manners: Thanks very much, Bill. Thanks for having me.

Bill Banham: Now listeners, Matt and I have known each other for a little while now. In addition to being a pretty impressive guy, I happen to know Matt is a lovely man. He is a millennial and he has achieved all of this so far at a pretty young age. I have always been hugely impressed by you Matt.

Matt Manners: Thanks very much.

Bill Banham: Well you have done it all yourself sir. But tell our audience a wee bit about how you got to be the founder and the CEO of the Employment Engagement Awards. What’s your career history Matt?

Matt Manners: Well I started off in PR and communications. My father and grandfather, my grandfather was a journalist and set up a PR firm as a retirement project and my dad took that on when he found out he was having me. Then I fell into that world and worked down in Australia and Sydney for five years to prove that I could do it all on my own. I came back and when I came back it was the advent of recommendation social media, so companies using their brand ambassadors to help them sell and get the word out there and I started my own company up around customer loyalty, customer engagement.

I set it up at the time when the world economy went bust and grew year on year through the very horrible times and then when times got a bit better realised that, if business is switched on to treating their employees like they did with their customers and invested in engaging with them like they do with their customers then the payoff would be huge. So started a small consultancy around employ net promoter and the beginnings of the employee engagement journey and quite quickly realized that there was no recognition for the great work being done and also no content being shared to help educate those that wanted to begin an engagement program within their organization. So the Employee Engagement Awards was born in London and within two and a half years, we have done two years in the UK. We have done conferences in New York and Chicago and two years in North America and we have just opened up in Australia and opening up in South Africa next year so bit of a crazy ride but a very fulfilling one so far.

Bill Banham: Matt Manners international man of mystery everybody. We are going to jump more into the specifics around the Employee Engagement Awards and Conference Series in a bit and that will be an opportunity to talk a bit more about South Africa, London, Chicago and all those other awesome destinations, but before we do that, a bit more of a fundamental question for you. For the purposes of our listeners out there scratching their heads and going okay how exactly do you define it? In your mind Matt, what is employee engagement and why does it matter?

employee engagement

Matt Manners: Well I kind of liken that question to answering what is the meaning of life, you know whoever you ask you are always going to get a different answer. If you ask someone working in HR, to internal comms, to a CEO, there will always be a different slant on it. I believe it’s putting everything together with the business and putting people and the processes in place to allow them to perform much better, to follow the purpose of the company. So employee engagement isn’t a stop start process, it isn’t just an annual survey it’s how can we improve the experience of employees so they want to work harder and to perform better and it fundamentally improves business performance.

People are I think too focused on employee advocacy scores that stand alone from nothing. If you can walk into the board room and say our employee engagement advocacy experience is going up and we can prove that that is correlating to revenue and stock price, then that is a very powerful message to send to the board room. So employee engagement for me is putting people at the heart of your business and allowing them to perform at their best.

Bill Banham: Thank you very much. You mentioned the word boardroom there. In your opinion can you think of a few boardrooms of a few companies that do employee engagement really, really well.

Matt Manners: I can but I probably don’t want to single any of them out just yet. We have got the Engagement 100. It is the top hundred employee engagement influencers around the world that will be being launched later this year and we will be putting some of those CEOs in that list as examples as how it should be done. But there are plenty also that don’t know how it’s done but we won’t go there either.

Bill Banham: Okay. So everybody, Matt Manners has got a secret formula which he is going to release to the world in the coming months. We will wait for that Matt. Lets continue through with the questions then. Tell us a bit about the Employee Engagement Awards and conference series, where you are at with it now, you are a couple of years into it, you briefly mentioned some locations there. Please take a couple of minutes and give us a deep dive.

Matt Manners

Matt Manners

Matt Manners: Well like I said it was born out of the want to recognize the great work that was being done primarily in the England and the UK where I was based and then it very quickly spread to North America and Australia, New Zealand. The awards try and cover all facets of engagement from diversity and inclusion to well-being, reward and recognition. So there are different sectors where it might be being run from non-profit, public sector to private sector so obviously within different organizations and sectors different things are needed, so we try to allow companies of all shapes and sizes and what programs they are running to enter and then shine a spotlight upon them.

Very quickly recognition wasn’t enough, people wanted to understand what the winners were doing so the conference element was born which is constantly evolving and we thank the HR Gazette for supporting us in North America on that one. The next step for us is to start really publishing all the finest case studies and entries and the winners from around the world over the next six months and publish them regularly. So we’ve got probably 50 to 100 that we a drafting and re-writing at the moment so people can see what best practice looks like and what it looks like in an organization that might be similar to their own so they can see what can be done. So there are three facets really we do the awards, then we try to educate and collaborate with people and put people in the room together and come up with different ideas and then we share best practice online and through you guys to help people go off and do it themselves.

Bill Banham: I have personal experience of the Employee Engagement Awards. After about five different planes trying to get there directly from [Cherm 00:08:14]. I managed to get to Chicago in June where Tim Baker the HR Gazette’s Community Directory was one of the MCs alongside yourself and it was top rate. I can’t recommend it highly enough to our listeners. But I would love to hear some of your thoughts on the highlights in terms of maybe speakers or sessions or people that have been given awards so far that you have seen over the last couple of years.

Matt Manners: Yeah there was one stand out from Chicago. What we want to do with the awards and where it will head is that we obviously want to see how it improves a business and improves the employee experience but also, not for just the very clever people that put the strategy together, but actually from the employees that it impacts themselves.

So we have a category called the unsung hero award that does just that, and we had one of the unsung heroes from Sanofi Pasteur called Louis Maldonado come and present to the conference. Louis is a third shift factory worker around quality control, so his job is to look at the vaccines that Sanofi produce and make sure they are of good enough quality to go into production and be sent out. So if the quality control was bad then the vaccines get thrown away. You could actually directly link it to babies and children not living because there was not enough vaccines to be sent around the world, so it was vital that the staff were engaged and quality control was high. He presented to the audience of 250 at Chicago and I have never seen a reaction like it.

It was so positive and it showed the impact of what a great engagement program and strategy can have on somebodies life. Not just their working life but their life. How it can empower them, how it can make them want to get up in the morning, how it can improve their well-being, how it can improve team spirit and therefore advocacy within an organization. So I think out of everything we have done over the past two and a half years that is a clear standout moment of what we can help do around the world and improve the lives of millions of employees if we speak to enough people.

Bill Banham: That’s amazing. Matt we are looking to wrap up this particular podcast very shortly. Before we do that, I would like to invite you to tell our audience a bit more on how they can learn more about you, about the Employee Engagement Awards and the Engagement Zone as well, and any final thought you would like to leave our listeners with today.

Matt Manners: Well I don’t think you need to know any more about me, but if you want to visit the engagement Awards website it has all our regions and all conferences and awards programs that are coming up. That’s ee-awards.com. Our Twitter is EE_awards and all our contact information is on there. We would love to involve as many businesses, whether it be recognizing the great work they are doing or helping them get ready to enter the awards and get an engagement program going, so just thank you very much for the opportunity to speak to your audience Bill.

Bill Banham: And thank you Matt. Listeners this has been another episode of HRchat podcast brought to you by the HR Gazette. I’ve been your host Bill Banham. Until next time, keep engaging.


Author: Editor

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