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Date posted: 03rd September 2018

03rd September 2018

Interview: Tim Withnall – RSA

Interview: Tim Withnall – RSA

This interview can also be found in our eBook Creating the best workplaces: Insights from global #EmployeeEngagement Influencers which features 25+ interviews and much more. Download now.

As we get underway with the launch of our 2018 UK & European Employee Engagement Awards, we at the Engagement Zone will be interviewing judges for the upcoming event. Today, the Engagement Zone sits down with Tim Withnall, People Manager at RSA.

EZ: What does employee engagement mean to you?

TIM: People are happy, engaged and proud of where they work and what they do. The people that work in organisations create shareholder value, no one can do it alone or in isolation. I am a firm believer in a quote often attributed to Sir Richard Branson, “look after your people, they will look after your customer” and in turn will create shareholder value.

EZ: What are your three tips to companies looking to drive engagement in their organisations?


  1. Listen to your people – what is working well? What isn’t? How can things be improved – for them, the customer, the organisation?
  2. Act on what your people tell you – and don’t try to fix management issues with engagement actions
  3. Be as honest as you can be and explain the rationale behind decisions/actions

EZ: What do you feel are the biggest pitfalls that companies should look to avoid when executing their engagement strategy?

TIM: As the saying goes there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. Don’t whitewash results, but understand that engagement is a fundamental part of good management and leadership. With that in mind – do you really need an engagement strategy; shouldn’t it be part of the core fabric of an organisation?

EZ: Why do employees fail to buy in when companies try to ramp up engagement?

TIM: We make it too complex and it feels false. It becomes something driven by HR or by a nominated engagement lead or is seen as purely an annual survey. In reality, engaging with your people needs to become part of the DNA – where people feel empowered and trusted at work.

EZ: What skills are most useful for everyone to have when trying to move towards a culture of engagement?


I think it’s more behavioural than needing a particular skill but for me, there are two fundamental things. Listening to your people – actively and honestly – they have so much to tell you and listen without judgement, without excuses and you will be given some great insight into your organisation and also solutions to challenges.

Which brings me to the second behaviour – as leaders we often think that we have the right answer to an issue and will tell our people what the solution to a particular problem is. Instead, we should empower and trust people to deliver a solution.

EZ: You’re a judge for the Employee Engagement Awards. What will you be looking for in the entries?

TIM: Great innovation and creativity. What were the outcome and results – the so what? What has the impact of actions been on people and customer?

EZ: How important do you think it is to connect Employee Experience to the Customer Experience and why?

TIM: The two are inextricably linked – it comes back to the quote from Sir Richard Branson. One of the key differentiators for service organisations is the customer experience and that is linked to people experience.

EZ: Which person (dead or alive) would you love to be able to come in and speak to your workforce/colleagues?

TIM: Barack Obama – a truly inspirational leader and a great orator.

EZ: Favourite song to crank up after a tough day at work?

TIM: I Lived by One Republic

EZ: Best place in the world you have visited?

TIM: I have been fortunate enough to visit some awesome places and so often it isn’t just where you are but who you are with that make something incredible. The most amazing experience recently was sat with the family in my fiancée’s Uncle’s garden in Brittany one clear summer night. There was so little light pollution you could see all of the stars in the sky and the milky-way.

Great setting, with great company, great conversation, and great wine. What more can you ask for?

EZ: The place you’d most like to visit?

TIM: New York

NOTE: Entries for the UK & European and ANZ  Employee Engagement Awards are now open. For your chance to be recognised as a great place to work, click the link here.