February 23 2016.

The hot theory currently shaking up boardrooms and HR departments is the concept of 'engagement', where the people who make up a company, the employees, and their concerns and involvement, are the priority of management, even ahead of customers.

From Quality Circles, through to Chaos theory, management know-how keeps coming, from as far back as 5th century BC China ( with Sun Tzu's Art of War ) through to current gurus like Piketty. It was a former boss of Campbells, the U.S. food giant, Doug Concut, who turned the emphasis away from the bottom line or the customer, when he said “ to win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace”.

Maybe certain health ministers, owners of sportswear retailers, and managers at internet shopping giants should familiarise themselves with his ideas ?

Leading this drive from the U.K. is David Coleman, a business director, advisor to a number of global brands, and writer now based in Stirling, Scotland. After an international career that has taken him to every corner of the planet, David is determined that engagement will not become just another passing fad.

He points out that the companies that practice this approach have the most committed, happy, and satisfied staff, who will go the extra mile for customers. Start with your people, and all the other essential goals, the happy customers, great products, and of course, profit, will follow.

Coleman is blunt in stating that many U.K. companies are not happy places: “It’s not just junior doctors - according to Investors in People, 60% of U.K. workers are not happy in their current job. And in the ACAS report on job satisfaction across Europe, we are down amongst the bottom of the class, a poor fourteenth out of twenty.”

But this is not just about happy-smiley notions of creating a gung-ho, compliant workforce. The impact on productivity, the weak spot of UK industry, and the bottom-line is measurable, says Coleman. The figures are indeed impressive : companies in the top quartile for engagement achieve twice the annual net profit of those in the bottom quartile. The effect on staff retention is also clear – companies with high levels of engagement show 40% lower levels of staff turnover than their dissatisfied rivals.

That should make the Financial Directors sit up and pay attention ! Maybe Engagement is not a “magic bullet”, but it could certainly transform working lives (and come to think of it, home lives) of the many jaded and disillusioned workers that we all know.

David A. Coleman’s new book ‘The Path To Engagement’is now available on Amazon and Kindle. He will be presenting sections of the book on a tour of universities and business schools this Spring, and delivering a TEDx talk that will be available on line in April. For more information, his website is www.goodhabits.org.uk