Happy Staff: An Employer’s Guide

Written by Steven Marwick
Author

It is a well-established fact that happy staff are more productive in the workplace and take less time off for sickness. It can be challenging to know exactly what to do in order to increase happiness among employees during hard economic circumstances. This is especially true at a time when asking for a pay rise may not be possible, but there are still budget-friendly steps that you can take to maintain staff happiness.

How to Improve Employee Morale

Finding ways to make employees feel valued and that don’t break the bank becomes more important in uncertain economic times like we are currently experiencing, and we have included some suggestions on how to do this below:

Foster an Inclusive and Diverse Work Culture for Happy Staff

One of the most meaningful things you can do as an employer is to create an inclusive and diverse workplace culture that is accepting of people’s differences. This is something that employers can work hard to achieve and it is something that comes from the top. It involves making it clear that homophobia, misogyny, ableism and racism will not be tolerated and that offenders will be reprimanded. 

Make it acceptable for people to bring their whole lives to work, encourage them to discuss their own circumstances and bond with each other over their differences as much as their similarities. A healthy workplace is one where people aren’t afraid to talk about their sexuality, marital status or family life and they feel that they have a support network within the workplace.  This helps to create an atmosphere where you can have happy staff.  

Offer Flexible Working Where Possible

Parents who have young children will sometimes need to take some time to deal with family emergencies that come up. These can range from childcare arrangements falling through at the last minute to their child having an accident and being taken to hospital. It is important to show a caring and flexible attitude in these circumstances and to ensure that your employees understand they are cared for and valued. 

Allow your employees to work from home when childcare falls through, or leave early with no issues when there is a family emergency. Kindness and compassion will shape how employees view both you and the business, and employees who know their boss has their back will work harder.

Consider Remote Working Requests

Although many workplaces are returning to the office, there are a great many employees who really don’t want to come back. The reasons for this are many and varied but one of the main ones is that commuting is a real waste of time and energy, not to mention an extra expense. Having experienced how well working remotely can be done, there are a great many employees who don’t see why they should be forced to return to the office against their will. Having more people work from home can mean that there is less need for expensive office space, so this can also be a cost-saving for the company. 

According to a survey by McKinsey and Company, around 30% of workers have said that they are prepared to switch jobs in order to protect their access to remote work. This is a significant percentage and may have a knock-on effect when it comes to attracting and retaining the best talent. The survey illustrates the importance of taking the views of employees seriously in this area and trying to allow remote or hybrid working where staff believe it is something that positively benefits their lives.

Offer Wellbeing Perks

If there isn’t enough money in the budget to offer pay rises, there may still be enough to offer health and well-being perks such as yoga, meditation or massage sessions. These can all add to the sense of being cared for by the company and the employer. Be prepared to explain how much the classes cost vs how much it would cost to give everyone a pay rise, as this should defuse any negative talk and make for happy staff. 

Some smaller local independent yoga teachers, massage therapists and meditation teachers will provide a day rate that definitely won’t break the bank. Mindfulness courses are also well worth looking into as they can teach useful skills that your employees can take and incorporate into their everyday lives.  

Communicate Openly and Often

Being able to communicate openly with employees about the reality of the current economic situation will head off and dispel a lot of unhealthy speculation. It is important to be able to talk about the effects that the pandemic has had on many workplaces and acknowledge that many have closed their doors for good, never to reopen. 

More than this though, open and frequent communication generally can help employees to orient themselves within the workplace, keep them abreast of the best practices in their area of work and help to foster team spirit. 

Signpost Staff to Help and Support

Remember that there is a cost of living crisis right now with food prices on the increase and utility prices skyrocketing, and maybe think about establishing a company-wide hardship fund that employees can apply to if they are really struggling. Ensure that you are able to signpost them to relevant sources of local help including foodbanks and discretionary grants that may be available from local authorities. 

Even if you can’t help them personally, having the information available in the workplace in kitchen areas etc or in a weekly email means people can access the information they need. This removes the need to go searching for it or having to admit to their colleagues that they are struggling, which some may find embarrassing.  

Offer Training to Aid Career Advancement

As an employer you should consider offering training in order to help employees progress on their career paths, as this can be very much appreciated. Many companies offer apprenticeships to current employees to help them both gain academic qualifications and relevant experience in a new role within the organisation. 

This attention to their career needs can help employees to feel like valued members of the team, it is a way to nurture a culture of happy staff. When investigating this as an option for your company, you should read up on employing an apprentice in 2022 and the apprenticeship standards required. 

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