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Engagement depends on buy-in from the beginning, says MD London Overground

Getting employees to buy in to a company’s vision can increase engagement levels, performance and the bottom line, according to managing director of London Overground Rail Operations Ltd (LOROL) Peter Austin.

Austin was speaking after the announcement of LOROL's annual employee engagement results, seen exclusively by HR magazine. The company, which was formed in 2007 and now employs 1,200 people, achieved an overall engagement score of 91%.

"There were many employees who were here before we were formed and so have seen the transition happen and have been on the entire journey with us," he said. "And new people see themselves coming into an organisation and culture where they can make a difference.

"I believe our employees have bought into our vision, which has helped improve personal and company performance."

Austin said this showed the key to keeping staff engaged is to personally involve them in the organisation and instil its vision at the start of their employment.

LOROL's overall engagement score of 91% included 'an understanding of how they contribute to company goals' (96%) and 'know what the company wants to achieve in the next 12 months' (87%).

One area Austin said many businesses struggle with, and one which LOROL has aimed to improve upon, is 'contact with senior management'. "One of the biggest disappointments in the survey was only 69% thought they had regular interaction with senior management," he said.

"To improve this, we have introduced 'director days' where we spend time covering the entire network and personally meeting every member of staff."

An area of business that reflected well in LOROL's results was a rise in the commitment it shows to 'providing opportunities regardless of their ethnic background, age and gender'.

"We aim to recruit from the area where stations are based so it gives a full reflection of the community," Austin said. "This was proven when we opened lines in our east London boroughs."