Brian Hartzer on the five Cs of employee engagement | Forward Thinkers

2 minute read
Leaders too often outsource employee engagement to human resources or external engagement consultants, says Brian Hartzer, former CEO of Australian banking giant Westpac. Yet employee engagement is critical to business performance so leaders should be personally involved in improving it. In this video Hartzer talks to The People Space’s editorial director Siân Harrington about the actions leaders can take create an engaged workplace

7-minute watch

Over his career Brian Hartzer, former CEO of Australian bank Westpac, has seen far too many leaders who seem to think that engagement and people leadership is a task for the human resources department rather than for them personally. He isn’t one of them. Having worked with HR departments and engagement consultants on numerous innovative and successful approaches he kept coming back to one question. What did he personally, as a leader, need to do to improve engagement?

“I always felt that I bought into the idea of the old statement that people don't leave companies, they leave leaders. And, likewise, I found that if I was trying to recruit good people to work in an organisation, if I genuinely believed that having the best quality people there was important, then it was inevitably a personal challenge to be the sort of leader to create the sort of environment where people did feel emotionally engaged and connected,” he says.

Taking ideas he had collected from watching other leaders and learning from external companies, Hartzer developed an approach he applied in practice to great success. Now he has brought these actions together in a simple framework, the Leadership Star. Designed to help leaders remember the actions, the five points of the star each represent a ‘C’: care, context, clarity clear the way and celebrate.

With research by Gallup finding disengaged employees have 37% higher absenteeism, 18% lower productivity and 15% lower profitability and managers accounting for 70% of the variance in employee engagement, this is an issue that needs to be high on the leader’s agenda, believes Hartzer. And with organisations grappling with the changes accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic –  hybrid working, supply issues and staff shortages – an engaged and loyal workforce is now more of a critical must have than ever. 

In this video Hartzer discusses the five Cs and offers his top three tips for leaders wishing to do more about employee engagement.

About Brian Hartzer

Brian Hartzer is the former CEO of Westpac and a world-leading executive, leadership mentor and investor with more than 25 years’ experience in senior executive roles at major banks in Australia and the UK. These roles included divisional chief executive roles at the Royal Bank of Scotland Group—including CEO of Coutts—and ANZ Banking Group. Brian has also served as chairman of the Australian Banking Association and of the Retail Banking Committee of the British Bankers Association. He is author of The Leadership Star: A Practical Guide to Building Engagement, out now (Wiley).

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Published 14 March 2022
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