Your customers don't come first, your employees do - then they put the customer first. Here are tips from five award-winning businesses on how to energise your workforce.
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The way we work is evolving, and the #MakeOneChange campaign from Best Companies, the organisation behind the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For List, aims to highlight how businesses across the UK are making simple, yet innovative changes that have an extraordinary effect on employee engagement.
Ranging from cycling initiatives and team sports to free lunches and cracking open beers at 5pm on a Friday, we have collected the best stories from five companies on this year’s List. This handful of companies, including Naked Wines, Zurich Insurance, HIT Training Ltd, Hawksmoor and the Lindum Group, have all ranked on the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For Lists in 2015, which makes them great examples for other businesses to follow.
Best Companies hopes that the #MakeOneChange campaign will inspire businesses everywhere to explain how they have made a change - no matter how subtle - in order to make life better for their employees. And by doing so, they will be helping to make the world a better workplace.
Work hard, play hard
Naked Wines are a company who found themselves 64th on the Sunday Times Best Small-Sized Companies to Work For List this year, and all because they know how to look after their staff. But it’s not all about one-off annual treats, although these make wonderful initiatives, Naked Wines also encourages its employees to relax during the working day. Each day at 12pm, a wine adviser will spend 15 minutes initiating ‘play time’.
Anyone who wishes to spend some time away from their computer is welcome, and activities can range from yoga, playing instruments and singing or even a game of ‘It’. On any given day, between 10 and 20 people will get involved; all taking some time for themselves to unwind and re-energise, ready to get back to work after lunch.
"Employees who don’t feel valued by a business aren’t going to care about their work"
Zurich are a large and well known insurance company, but that doesn’t make them appreciate their staff any less. Landing an impressive 11th position on this year’s Best Big-Sized Companies List, Zurich were acknowledged for their commitment to employee wellbeing. One of their biggest and most innovative changes has been to introduce dynamic working across the office.
Everywhere you turn, traditional office layouts and desk set-ups have been abandoned, in favour of special “zoned” areas for working, community and team meetings. Instead of an allocated desk to sit at every day, each employee chooses a new place to sit depending on where they feel comfortable working that day.
This approach has shown Zurich employees that their company cares about them; instead of chaining them to a desk, allowing them to work fluidly and where they feel most productive.
Smells like company spirit
Employees who don’t feel valued by a business aren’t going to care about their work in return, nor are they going to want to stay there in the long term, and high staff turnover can harm not only the company’s finances, but can also damage delivery to customers.
Companies that go the extra mile for their staff will always benefit from higher levels of employee engagement, and that’s exactly what the Lindum Group did. Over the past year, staff at the Lindum Group have experienced severe disruption thanks to maintenance work on the road outside the office. Anyone who commutes to work will understand how soul-crushing it can be to sit in slow moving traffic.
But by liaising with their staff, this year Lindum implemented staggered starting and finishing times to spare the frustration of morning and evening traffic jams; some chose to start earlier, whilst others stayed later in the evening. By adapting to their employees’ specific requirements, Lindum have shown just how much they care about their well-being, whilst also maintaining impressive levels of customer delivery.
The best way for a company to advance and grow is to ensure that their employees are always developing with it. Hawksmoor, who have grown from an independent restaurant into a five location-strong chain across London since 2006, very much believe that their employees are the future.
The Hawksmoor on Air Street, London. Anyone fancy a steak?
Everyone at Hawksmoor follows ‘The Rule of Seven’, a system that ensures every employee works and trains two candidates to replace them. Assistant Managers are trained by General Managers, Sous Chefs and Chefs de Partie are trained by Head Chefs, and so on.
Hawksmoor chiefs believe that successfully training your own replacement is the best way to tell when somebody is ready for a promotion. This method ensures that staff are always moving onwards and upwards through the business, as well as encouraging the constant learning and passing on of new skills.
HIT Training, specialists in training others to work in the hospitality industry, are another example of a business who take pride in their employees. As the future of the business, HIT aren’t afraid to invest in their staff, which they do by running a bespoke leadership and management development programme.
This initiative focuses on boosting the skills of each employee, by using the results of the Best Companies survey and their individual MC3 scores, to ensure that every person is growing to be at their very best.
The sheer calibre of businesses that have ranked on this year’s Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For List shows just how important employee engagement has become. They are the best of the best, which means their initiatives are certainly something to take inspiration from.
The benefits of improving the lives of your employees are endless: improved productivity, happier employees, less staff turnover and better results to customers being just a few. So why not use that motivation to make some incredible changes in your own workplace?
You don’t have to jump straight in at the deep end with extravagant company trips; instead opt for smaller changes that show you care, perhaps a new review system that keeps people’s progression on track or a pizza and movie night! You never know, make some waves and you could find yourself registering for a future List.