BEING A RESPONSIBLE EMPLOYER
Are you a responsible employer?
And if you believe you are – what is the impact on your staff?
In the days of feudal servitude and even throughout the industrial revolution, ‘masters’ and business owners looked out for their own interests. Even in recent times, companies traditionally focused on benefiting their shareholders and making profit – often to the detriment of their employees. But a sea-change is taking place in business, in which that old hierarchical system has been replaced by more ethical working practices, employee engagement and shared values that benefit staff as well as the business.
Corporate responsibility towards staff should be intrinsic within the company culture, and ethical business starts at the top. CEOs or Directors must lead the agenda and hold their managers accountable for implementing ethical and responsible policies and procedures.
But what does it really mean? And how do you ensure you’re a responsible employer? Here are 5 ways:
Have integral company values
Ironically, values are often undervalued in business. Despite the fact that many companies declare their values on their websites or promotional materials, they can prove to be empty words rather than working practice. But values are what are important to us – what we hold most dear – ourselves or as an organisation; what we live by, and work by.
If you state that your values are ‘or ‘quality and integrity’ or ‘customer delight’ – ensure that these values are evident throughout the organisation.
Your values should be central to your company culture, your brand, your vision and your working practices. Values set the standard for how your staff behave and your business runs. Recruitment, marketing, strategies and decision-making should follow your company’s core values. This sends a consistent message to employees, supply chain partners and customers.
Support workplace wellbeing
A stressful work environment has negative effects on employees’ mental state and emotional resilience, and on staff morale, retention, customer service and productivity.
Over their lifetime, a person spends more than 90,000 hours at work, on average. Given that fact – shouldn’t the workplace be somewhere pleasant, happy and stress-free, as far as possible? And, as a business leader, doesn’t it make sense to look after the wellbeing of the people spending a good proportion of their lives, helping you to achieve your business goals?
Create an environment in which staff look forward to coming to work, and it will give you a great return – with increased productivity and loyalty.
Offer staff benefits that improve health and wellbeing – like fruit boxes; gym membership; yoga, meditation, mindfulness and life-coaching sessions. Give staff free water drinking bottles to encourage good hydration – which alleviates headaches, stress and depression symptoms. Ask staff for more ideas!
Develop your staff
Some employers are still hesitant to invest in staff development – or afraid they won’t get a return, because training will empower staff to seek better jobs outside the company! And yet, the reverse is usually true – if staff are not satisfied with their opportunities to learn, and progress in their knowledge, skills and experience at your company, they will seek to further their career elsewhere. In fact, when staff aren’t provided with good quality training and development opportunities in their job, around 40% are likely to leave in their first year.
Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said: “What’s worse than training your workers and losing them? Not training them and keeping them!”
For me, development isn’t just job-specific training. It includes both professional and personal development, because these are inextricably linked. Sharing success formulas, skills and belief patterns so they too can create the life they desire.
Developing your people to become the best versions of themselves not only creates a more skilful, efficient and productive workforce but also helps keep employees engaged and reduces employee turnover.
including mindfulness, limiting belief systems, personal values and money management. The results and feedback has been priceless and reinforces the importance of employers adopting this strategy.
Be socially responsible
Business now serves society, not just its shareholders. Giving back is now an intrinsic part of the brand identity of companies like The Body Shop, Ben & Jerry – even Greggs has a Foundation, giving grants for community causes from the profits of sausage roll sales!
Consumers are also becoming more aware – and can choose to spend their money on businesses with good social values.
Award schemes such as B Corp offer certification to companies that demonstrate strong standards in their social and environmental accountability, performance, and transparency.
It makes sense to take your corporate social responsibility seriously to retain loyal customers and attract discerning new clients – and to give staff the feeling that they are contributing to people in need (or benefiting their neighbours), too.
So, whether you sponsor the local charity, or buy football strip for the nearby school’s team; or you offer work placements for unemployed people; or if you ensure that your products are ethically made or locally sourced to benefit businesses in the community – there are many ways you can share opportunities and goodwill with wider society and add value.
There’s a growing public concern about the scarcity of the world’s resources and the need to conserve energy and protect the environment. These factors increasingly matter to customers, who are more selective in choosing to spend with businesses who integrate environmental considerations throughout their business. For example, 66% will spend more money on a product from a sustainable brand.
Aldi, Lidl, Ikea, and Unilever are just some of the companies who have embraced environmental responsibility within and throughout their businesses: no more lip-service to being ‘green’. As a result, their profits are increasing and they are gaining more new customers – as well as achieving reductions in environmental impact. Their staff see that they care about the world, too.
Environmental responsibility includes recycling; using renewable energy sources or changing lightbulbs; reducing fuel consumption and delivery miles; ensuring environmental sustainability throughout their supply chain – as well as sourcing goods and services in ways that are more ethically and environmentally sound.
This is just a start, for you and your staff. What else can you do?