Amid what has become known as ‘The Great Resignation’, reports suggest that almost a quarter of UK workers are actively planning to change employers over the course of the coming months.
Such statistics encourage us to consider a very important question: do employers have a duty to improve the livelihoods of their employees? Put simply, the answer is yes – absolutely. Businesses should feel privileged that their employees have chosen to work for them when the reality is that many of them could move elsewhere.
The benefits of a happy workforce
It’s crucial that businesses understand the benefits of a happy workforce, for both themselves and, of course, their employees. Not only does an improved sense of wellbeing increase employee creativity, but research also suggests that happy employees show an increase in analytical capabilities, decision-making, and the ability to handle adversity.
From a business perspective, however, happy employees cost less and produce more – in fact, it’s claimed that unhappy employees take up to an average of fifteen additional sick days per year. Perhaps most importantly, happy employees stick around – employee happiness is regarded as an essential factor in retaining talent, which itself has been linked to increased revenue, improved morale, and better employee experiences. There are clear, tangible benefits to cultivating a happy workforce, and here at Elevate, we believe there are many ways to do so.
Perhaps one of the most obvious, but still, one of the most important ways in which a business can improve the livelihoods of its employees is by promoting an atmosphere of respect, appreciation, and empathy. Take the time to acknowledge an employee’s efforts, achievements, and hard work – this doesn’t have to come in the form of a grand gesture of appreciation, sometimes the smallest acts of recognition can result in an employee feeling valued. Beyond this, however, it’s important to remember that each employee is an autonomous individual with their own thoughts, feelings, fears, and ambitions.
Employers should take the time to get to know their staff members on a personal level: What motivates them? What do they like doing outside of work? Where do they want to be in five years? When bosses understand the person behind the number, they are in a much better position to offer the support employees may need.
Secondly, it is essential to promote positive health and wellbeing throughout the workplace – both physically, and perhaps more importantly, mentally.
Improved physical wellbeing is correlated with higher levels of concentration, increased mental stamina, reduced levels of stress, improved learning, and a sharper memory – not to mention that an increase in general physical health will lead to a reduction in sick days. Whether it be providing employees with the opportunity to improve their physical health within on-site facilities, subsidising employee gym members, implementing physical incentives, such as a step-count challenge, or encouraging employees to participate in a sports league, workers will benefit substantially from an office that feels both healthy and energised.
A ‘happy’ workplace environment
There’s been a surge in mental health awareness of late, so preserving, and indeed improving mental health should be at the forefront of every business’s priorities – regardless of its size or stature. A workplace environment that understands the nuances of mental health will allow employees to safely fulfil their potential and provide them with the confidence to play an active role in the workplace community. Not only this, but it’ll also instil employees with the belief that they can tackle workplace adversity, whilst ensuring that they know their greatest interests are at heart.
Companies across the country are implementing mental health initiatives that are improving the livelihoods of their employees – but this is just the start of a long and delicate process. Managers should be fully trained in mental health first aid, engage with national awareness days such as National Stress Day and World Suicide Prevention Day, and give workers the opportunity to take wellness days or work flexibly if required.
What’s more, it is vital that businesses promote an atmosphere of equality and inclusion in the workplace – workers should feel both safe and accepted regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation.
Businesses should incorporate inclusivity into the core of their values, model inclusive language, and form a diversity and inclusion council filled with passionate individuals who are dedicated to creating a safe space for all. Senior employees should receive inclusivity training and regularly engage in productive conversations with a diverse range of employees. Not only does an inclusive office stand a greater chance of generating high levels of revenue, but it’s also a key factor in employee retention. A workplace in which employees feel confident to express who they are is a workplace that will thrive.
Ultimately, businesses have a duty to improve the livelihoods of their employees – there are many ways in which they can achieve this, but a good place to start is to create an open, honest, and inclusive working environment filled with empathy, respect and understanding. Doing so will not only increase revenue and reduce employee turnover but will also create a workplace filled with highly confident employees who feel empowered to fulfil their potential.
Katherine Barr is Director at business development consultancy, Elevate.