The IPA launched its new Hub for representatives at the event - Unleashing Employee Voice for Business Success - on 29 September in London. This Hub will provide, for the first time, a professional support network for all representatives to share good practice, ideas and practical learning to strengthen the employee voice in their respective organisations.

There is overwhelming evidence that successful organisations listen to their employees and are able to harness the potential of their workforce. As Nita Clarke, IPA Director, pointed out, having a robust and informed employee voice has been linked to numerous positive outcomes; from supporting employee engagement and boosting performance and productivity, to improving decision-making, employee satisfaction and wellbeing.  

Nita quoted her colleague and co-author of the publication “Engaging for Success – Enhancing Performance through Employee Engagement”, David MacLeod, from a more recent IPA report, “Releasing Voice for Sustainable Business Success”. In this publication, MacLeod stated that, “The importance of being listened to and, therefore, valued and respected at work by colleagues, managers and the organisation as a whole cannot be over-estimated. We know that it is one of the key factors influencing how much employees value their organisation, and that being heard is vital for authentic workplace relationships based on trust”.

Staff forums have to be based on a strategic on-going agenda based on the major changes that are affecting the organisation, clarity about what is up for discussion, clarity about the role of the representative and high quality communication to ensure meetings are not seen as talking shops.

Other speakers included; Stuart Inness, Senior Representative of VIVO (The Standard Life Staff Association), Sally Knill, Head of Reward at Victrex, Harriet Molyneaux, Head of Digital Engagement at Hot Spots Movement and Rachel Pinto, from Acas. All made a huge contribution to the event with insightful presentations that facilitated an informative series of discussions.

Inness pointed out that all VIVO representatives are supported in their roles by a leadership development programme, mentoring and coaching designed to maximise their contribution to both the staff and Standard Life’s business. VIVO is a great example of just how much a staff forum can achieve and has gone beyond what was originally envisaged for representative groups of this type – a journey that has taken them from establishing a voice to creating an informed one and through a great deal of its own development from transactional to transformational.

Knill described how a £7,000 investment in IPA’s training and consultancy services saved the organisation £1 million through a major pension change programme. A clear channel for information and feedback eliminated issues as soon as they rose. This was based on up front transparency from the organisation built on the additional confidence of both managers and representatives.

One representative commented, “we were pleased that Victrex were fully committed to the consultation process, not only providing time and resources for the Group but also independent training into what constitutes a successful consultation, the Group feels that this consultation has been successful in addressing concerns raised, has delivered improved outcomes and should be considered as a model for future consultations.” Sally concluded by stating that the IPA’s 5/15 Model is now being used successfully by the Victrex UK Employee Forum and has become business as usual for both representatives and managers.


Harriet Molyneaux, Head of Digital Engagement at Hot Spots Movement noted that a change in the traditional workforce has, over the last few years, created a new deal between employers and talent. The rise of the employee voice has persuaded employers to understand staff priorities, engage in constructive dialogue and “harness the wisdom of the crowd”. This has changed the relationship at work from Parent to Child to Adult to Adult. Furthermore, social media has changed the focus of staff from a negative and reactive position to one that is proactive, constructive and future-orientated. Rachel Pinto, from Acas, emphasised the need for rigorous planning, structure and training if any employee voice mechanism is to be successful.     


A number of key issues were discussed and will continue to be discussed at further regular meetings. These included:


  • How do we engage middle managers?
  • How does an employee forum contribute to setting business objectives?
  • How can Senior Managers be persuaded to support their representatives?
  • How do you demonstrate the return on this investment?


The day re-iterated a number of key messages. It was acknowledged that an Employee Voice can only be effective if:


  • It is informed
  • Representatives are trained, developed and supported
  • It is proactive
  • It is adult to adult
  • It is seen to make a day to day difference
  • It influences change
  • People feel free to contribute


It is equally clear that representatives of all types need the support of a network like this to ensure they can make all of these criteria happen.

If you want more information about our new Hub for Representatives, please contact me:

[email protected]

07780 697024