Can a Government task force really motivate the masses?

David Cameron wants to get people excited about work again. As if the Government didn't have enough challenges on its plate...

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 01 Aug 2011
Feeling listless? Unmotivated? Disillusioned by the daily grind? Well, you’re not alone – apparently the whole country is feeling a bit demoralised, according to the Government. Step forward, members of the Coalition’s brand new task force (is there a more inspirational term?) to improve employee motivation and find ways to improve wellbeing and morale as spending cuts, redundancies and effective pay cuts take their toll on the nation’s workers. Good luck with that one...

The task force is part of the Government’s measures to kick-start growth, by boosting productivity. Launching the taskforce on Monday, PM David Cameron said it’s ‘bringing together two of my Government’s top priorities – delivering sustainable growth across the UK, and coming up with new approaches to help people improve their wellbeing’. So, in other words, this is the next logical step after the PM’s much-mocked Happiness Survey.

The task force will be chaired by David MacLeod, a non-executive director at the Ministry of Justice. MacLeod was responsible for the previous Government report on engagement and improving workplace motivation, so he’s well-positioned to build on that. Other members of the task force include Boots HR director Stephen Lehane, CBI chief policy director Katja Hall and Sainsbury’s director of customer service Jacki Connor – so the Government has been careful to make sure the private sector is well-represented.

Indeed, Cameron made it very clear that private sector representation was the key: the idea is that companies feel ‘empowered’ to help their employees feel motivated. ‘Public and private sectors can learn a lot from each other’, he suggested (although recent motivation surveys suggest the public sector has more to learn from private sector at the moment than vice versa).

All very worthwhile, although you could argue that the best way to cheer us all up is by magicking away high inflation, wage stagnation and general economic gloom - which is a bit of a tall order. Still, we can't help being intrigued about what the taskforce will come up with. Soviet-style mass exercise classes, perhaps?

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