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We caught up with Kath Howard, Head of Human Resources at the Samaritans before she joins us to speak at the 2020 Employee Engagement Summit.

  1. What are your organisation’s biggest challenges for employee engagement?

From an employee perspective, our biggest challenges are to fast-track our response to employee engagement after a number of years of underinvestment in this area. The underinvestment has not happened due to a lack of care in our people, but over the last two years the leadership team have shone a light on this area and are committed to ensuring we treat it as a priority through our next strategic phase as a charity.

2. What are the most successful measures you have implemented?

I still think we’re in the early days of responding to employee engagement challenges. One measure that has recently been introduced is a stronger focus on flexible working, and ensuring we have the right environment and tools to support this change. Flexible working at Samaritans has been brought about as a result of employee feedback and leadership support, and we hope it will have a positive impact on well-being.

3. Do you see differences in the strategies the charity sector implement compared to those of – for example – a large corporate body?

I think there are such big differences across the charity sector that it’s difficult to respond to this question. I’m very conscious that I’ve only worked in large charities, and the sector is of course mainly made up of many, many much smaller charities. What I would say is that meaningful work is a core factor in employee engagement, and often available in spades within the charity sector, so we have a wonderful head-start in that area. However, budgets available to support broader interventions and to ensure well-being are often far smaller than those I’ve held in larger private sector organisations, and therefore we need to find more creative or resourceful ways of achieving the same outcomes.

4. What are you most looking forward to about the Employee Engagement Summit 2020?

I’m looking forward to sharing ideas and being inspired by what others are doing to engage their employees. Samaritans has c. 200 employees but we also have an incredible group of over 20,000 volunteers. I’ll be bringing back my learning to the wider team at Samaritans to support how we engage all our people.


We are delighted to welcome Kath as speaker at the 2020 Employee Engagement Summit where she will be presenting a talk on engaging employees through times of uncertainty and change. Kath currently leads the HR team at the Samaritans, and has over twenty years of experience working in the fields of occupational psychology and organisational development. Find out more about Kath, or our other speakers by clicking here



About Samaritans

Samaritans has a vision to reduce suicide and we provide emotional support to those who need it. If you’re having a difficult time, you can get in touch about anything that’s troubling you,  no matter how large or small the issue feels. You can contact us by phone, email, letter or in person. More details can be found here: