Recent research from the Resolution Foundation Think Tank has found that illegal work practices are rife across the UK. Worrying figures show that around one in ten workers don’t receive regular payslips, and around one in twenty don’t get their legal holiday entitlement. Younger workers are particularly affected yet are amongst the age groups least likely to go to an Employment Tribunal to resolve their issues.
Regular pay and holiday entitlement should be the cornerstone of any business, yet these statistics prove that a shocking number of employees are both undervalued and overworked. But does the workplace have to be like this? We caught up with Danni Rush, Chief Customer Officer at Virgin Incentives, a leading rewards and motivation platform to find out more.
The benefits of supporting employee wellbeing
As well as providing the basic legal requirements, businesses should be investing in their employees by developing a suite of staff benefits and exciting incentive and recognition schemes that care for their wellbeing. Employee wellbeing is extremely important, both for the health of employees and for the good of the business. Investing in employee engagement schemes results in increased productivity and better retention rates – a 2018 study from Alight Solutions found that employees who feel their rewards meet their needs are seven times more likely to be engaged with their work.
So how does a business successfully implement new initiatives that support employee wellbeing and promote happiness and productivity?
Money doesn’t always bring happiness
A vital consideration for any employee benefit scheme is what to offer. It has been shown that the traditional cash rewards fail to have a lasting impact on employees, providing only a weak link between salary and job satisfaction. In a survey by Westminster College, only 18% of people listed monetary rewards as an incentive that would inspire performance. It’s clear that employers cannot buy the motivation of their workforce, and an employer may often find that offering solely financial perks fails to engage on an emotional level.
Recent research from Barclaycard has shown that over half (52%) of consumers would rather spend money on experiences rather than material goods. Employers should take note of the popularity of the experience economy when choosing their employee benefits. Offering experiences as a staff incentive can cover team experiences – encouraging bonding and collaborative working – or a personalised reward which reflects a deep understanding of an individual’s interests and personality inside or outside the four walls of the office. Ensuring employees feel recognised and appreciated is vital, both in terms of creating a positive workforce culture and running a financially successful business.
The challenge for small businesses
Although the findings from the Resolution Foundation found that businesses with less than 25 employees are the most likely to implement illegal work practices, being a small business shouldn’t be a barrier to protecting the rights and promoting the wellbeing of staff. As well as standard practices such as paid holiday, added extras such as staff benefits and rewards should be achievable for businesses of every size without draining resources. Overall, companies with incentives programmes commit less than 1% of turnover to the cause, proving that you don’t have to be a tech giant with top of the range offices to create a happy workplace. From a simple ‘thank you’ to a personalised gift voucher, it’s ultimately the thought that counts.
The Challenges for Larger Businesses
As businesses grow, they tend to recruit staff from increasingly diverse backgrounds. Businesses with a variety of employee profiles must consider how any employee engagement scheme they initiate can benefit staff from every demographic. When choosing what to include in your rewards scheme, you must be mindful of every employee’s cultural background and ensure that any necessary considerations are included. For example, it should be a matter of course to ensure that restaurants picked for team dinners cater to all dietary requirements and activity days are fully accessible for all employees. Failing this, businesses may create a divided workforce where some feel less valued or welcome than others and this can foster a negative workplace atmosphere, in turn leading to costly resignations.
A great option to ensure all employees are engaged with your benefits is to offer vouchers. This allows you to bypass the outdated cash reward and offers people the opportunity to choose their own treats. Employees of all ages and genders will be able to celebrate their achievement in a way that is appropriate and meaningful to them.
A study by Warwick University has found that employee happiness increases productivity by 12%, so why are so many employers failing to make employee wellbeing a priority? Instead of shirking their responsibilities, businesses should consider incentive schemes as an exciting opportunity to encourage teamwork and a positive office culture – all whilst benefiting your business. However many employees you have, cost should not impose limitations and there’s something out there to make everyone feel valued. Creating a culture in which your employees can thrive has huge benefits, both business and personal, and now needs to seriously be considered as part of the core business model.