Matt Manners
Written by
Matt Manners

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. To start off, we sit down with Drew McMillan – Head of Colleague Communication & Engagement at British Airways.

EZ: What does employee engagement mean to you?

DREW: It’s the magical outcome of a number of things being neatly aligned, particularly communication, recognition, and wellbeing. Get the alignment right and you have engaged people who perform better.

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

DREW: Avoid thinking of engagement as an activity. Understand the vital importance of effective line management. And don’t get hung up on engagement surveys.

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

DREW: Too many organisations fail to grasp the holistic nature of what they’re trying to do.

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

DREW: Unless an engagement strategy has longevity, with sustained investment in people over a decent period of time, then employees will sniff out the lack of commitment.

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

DREW: Being able to have honest, open, adult to adult conversations is a deal breaker.

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

DREW: I’ve been lucky to judge quite a few professional awards over the years and it still amazes me how few of the entries provide solid evidence of business benefit and outcomes. I am hoping to see lots of compelling evidence this year, not just shiny things!

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

DREW: It’s fundamental if your business works on a service-value chain model. Get things right with your people, and they will give the best experience to your customers.

EZ: Since you entered the world of work, what’s the best experience you’ve had?

DREW: A few years ago, in a role with a big retailer, I delivered a vision and values programme that ran for three years. By the end of it, I’d lost most of my hair but profit per shop was up 16% and much of that was attributed to my team’s hard work.

EZ: What’s the worst?

DREW: Back in 2006, managing the internal crisis communication when tragedy struck and 10 employees, who were on a pleasure boat trip, lost their lives. It was heart-breaking.

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

DREW: Gore Vidal – the consummate wordsmith and orator.

EZ: Best place in the world you have visited?

DREW: Vancouver, every time.

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

DREW: Svalbard, to see the polar bears and aurora borealis.

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.


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