With the buzz and excitement of the Tour de France countdown in full swing, Thursday, July 3rd saw senior managers, Gemma Hornby and Ed Long, from West Yorkshire health and well-being charity Touchstone don yellow jerseys and set off on an epic cycle ride from Dewsbury to Leeds on a tandem.
Energetically waving them off was the Kirklees Advocacy Service staff team, engaged and fully behind their quest to cycle 22 miles in aid of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance but also in silent (and very bright yellow) homage to the famous TdF whose talented cyclists were amassing on the Leeds borders.
At every stop along the way, teams of Touchstone staff appeared like splashes of thick lemon curd, pouring yellow cake and squash down the throats of the intrepid twosome. They welcomed and admired their gumption; their prowess on a tandem – and their willingness to have a laugh at their own expense!
This was the Tour de Touchstone: an involvement initiative; a fundraising spectacle, but also the best staff engagement tool Touchstone has ever seen, a real Tour de Force, in fact.
Staff engagement is as essential in the voluntary and Third Sector as it is in the public or private sectors.  Staff retention, attendance and performance is always better in organisations that understand the power of staff engagement and harness this power to keep staff motivated, maintain high morale and translate the benefits into positive outcomes for the people using the service.
According to HR guru, Nancy R Lockwood in her article “Leveraging Employee Engagement for Competitive Advantage”, employees with the highest level of commitment perform 20% better and are 87% less likely to leave the organisation – statistics which she believes indicates that engagement is linked to organisational performance. Corporate and Social Responsibility (CSR) activities like fundraising for other charities are fantastic ways to generate commitment from staff and the value of this to employers cannot be underestimated. For example, when Starbucks management started a community involvement and engagement programme, they experienced higher profits and greater employee engagement, as a result.
As a Sunday Times Best 100 Employer, Touchstone understands and champions the role of CSR within the work environment as a staff engagement and retention tool – and also as a means of securing staff as organisational ambassadors and endorsers.  If your staff wouldn’t use your service why should anyone else?
Touchstone, like many other employers, wants its staff to love their work but this is not always possible where colleagues are constantly working to targets and supporting vulnerable people with distressing life experiences.  In cases such as these, a bit of light relief is a necessary of life and opportunities afforded to employers by events like the Tour should be grasped with both hands.
Merci le Tour! and well done to our saddle-sore duo, Gemma and Ed.  Share with us your best employee engagement events and activities – contact us on – 0113 2718277; office@touchstonesupport.org.uk or @touchstone_spt