Does staff happiness equal engagement?

Teamwork, women in business, team, positivityIn a time when ‘jobs for life’ can seem like a module in a modern history lesson for those just entering the world of work, it’s important for employers to be seen as an attractive proposition for employees.

Demand for flexible hours, working from home and plenty of annual leave have led to the extinction of the 9-5, with skilled workers increasingly looking for jobs ‘on their terms’. But there are benefits to the business too.

Here, Katie Mallinson, founder and MD of Scriba PR, explores how a happy workforce can translate into an engaged – and retained – team.

When Scriba PR was founded, I expected the business to be little more than a freelance comms specialist working from the comfort of my own home – and I was fine with that! Six years later, we have a team of 10 (lovely) colleagues, each of whom are at differing stages in their lives.

While we, as a company, strive to keep everyone in the team happy and motivated – through regular staff lunches, social activities, quarterly away days, sessions with a life coach and a fantastic Christmas party – it’s understanding what matters to each person that fosters REAL engagement.

For example, at Scriba HQ we have a 26-year old who’s just bought her first house (read: restoration project), four time-strapped mums, a colleague that is working towards a move to Qatar, a woman who is supporting her husband setting up a new business – while being the sole income-earner – and a 21-year-old who travels to Wolverhampton to visit her boyfriend most weekends.

What matters to each of those is completely different, so understanding the nuances within a team is key.

Will happy staff mean happy clients?

Beyond the obvious – aiding recruitment and staff retention – a positive and productive workforce, as well as a consistent point of contact for the outside world, will naturally lend itself to a more ‘solid’ working environment.

But, there’s no use in simply ‘talking the talk’. There must be genuine reasons for keeping staff happy vs. simply towing the party line – and more often than not, this comes from personal experience.

No matter how clichéd it may sound, the driving force behind Scriba PR has always been doing right by my colleagues – and clients. Not for commercial gain, but because positive, valued and rewarded employees are more inclined to stay.

I’ve encountered a very different environment – as have many of the team – and we each know that it’s much easier to maintain a solid group if there’s authenticity, ethics and a bit of soul to what you do. Plus, it’s nice to know that we’ve built a place where people want to work.

Establishing a sense of camaraderie is vital, particularly during challenging or unexpected times. When you must deal with something negative, whether that’s in a personal or professional sense, a strong workforce will always pull together – we know that from experience.

How can you make your staff feel appreciated?

Unfortunately, it’s all too common these days to hear stories of those who feel underappreciated by their superiors. While you’ll never stop disgruntled folks having a vent and stomping their feet on occasions, bosses can outweigh any perceived negatives by taking the time to understand what matters to them.

Rather than assuming what motivates an entire team, speak to people on an individual basis – as not everyone shares the same goals or aspirations. Time off to volunteer at a local hospital might be top of one colleague’s list, while another might simply want a bigger monthly paycheck.

Of course, this doesn’t mean giving everyone a pay rise or extra holidays – it’s about understanding that a reward for one staff member might not necessarily ‘woo’ another. By the same token, simple things such as giving everyone a day off for their birthday or introducing an ‘employee of the month’ scheme whereby someone gets a free breakfast or lunch on the company, should help to keep motivation high.

Personally, I’ve always wanted to spend my working day in a space that I find inspiring. Lots of natural light, a great view across Huddersfield, foliage and trendy décor does wonders for productivity – and it’s nice to operate from a location we’re all really proud of.

If you do anything, think about the short, medium and long-term things which matter to the brand, and those charged with bringing it to life. It’s okay for employees to be motivated by monthly nights out, just as much as it is to have a clear professional development plan – the key is making sure you pay attention to each unique, desire.

If it’s your first foray into any kind of reward scheme, don’t rely on gimmicks – such as organised ‘work perks’. If it’s just a ‘tick box’ exercise, it will soon be ousted as ‘fake’ and you’ll end up in a worse position than when you began. Take the time to be authentic rather than opting for a fashionable ‘quick fix’.

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