How to keep your employees happy as an SME

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As an SME, the happiness and wellbeing of your employees is of paramount importance.

Within small businesses, as opposed to larger corporations, there are significant opportunities to have personal and well-established connections with your employees. At present however, there is a preconceived perception that employee wellbeing can only be achieved through grand and expensive initiatives. We often read about how tech giants (I won’t name names) are playing around with huge slides in their atriums or colourful bean bags in their “chill out zones”. Yet this perception is misleading; employee wellbeing can be just as effectively promoted through smaller scale, inexpensive methods.

Here at Magenta, we pride ourselves on our working environment. We provide a welcoming, supportive and encouraging workplace for our employees, with a range of benefits and initiatives that don’t cost the earth. The link between a nutritious diet and brain function has been of interest to scientists and psychologists for many years, yet the workplace is just starting to catch on. We offer our employees free fresh fruit, artisan bread and freshly ground coffee throughout the week, to encourage healthy eating and boost productivity levels. By ensuring that your employees are well energised and alert you can inadvertently improve your bottom line. We also encourage all employees to eat their lunch away from their desk; this prompts people to interact with those outside of their team in the eating area and refreshes and cleanses super busy minds.

Team days are also a great opportunity to strengthen bonds between teams. Whilst SMEs will already have that “family-knit” kind of atmosphere, there may be teams who don’t often have the chance to collaborate or work together. Hosting quarterly team days can help encourage communication, creativity and promote the sharing of ideas. The somewhat dowdy image and negative stigma associated with team days is shifting; gone are the days where employees are forced to participate in “trust” based activities that cause undue stress and humiliation. Team days can be inventive and exciting – a chance for everyone to relax and get to know one another outside of the office environment. Conduct some research and find out what your employees would like to do and plan your day based on what they will actually enjoy. Perhaps they are creative and would like to take part in an arts workshop. Maybe they enjoy history and would like to see some attractions. Or maybe they are a little adventurous and would like to do something off the wall. Whatever your employees are into, tailor your team day to suit their needs and not only will the day prove to be fruitful, but everyone will enjoy it as well!

Aside from the more materialistic add-ons that can improve employee wellbeing, I think it is undeniably your company culture that impacts on happiness levels. Every employee has the right to be respected and feel valued within a company regardless of whether they are the intern, the middle manager or the CEO. Allowing all employees the opportunity to grow, to be heard and to flourish goes way beyond any tangible company benefits. Create a culture whereby everyone is treated how they would like to be treated themselves and you’ll have a winning blueprint for a successful, happy business.

About the author

Cathy Hayward is a writer about the workplace and managing director of Magenta Associates, a specialist communications, public relations and content agency for the built environment. Prior to setting up Magenta in 2011, Cathy enjoyed a career in B2B journalism which included founding and editing FM World Magazine, and writing for titles as diverse as Marketing Week, Soccer Analyst, Financial Management and Charity Finance. In 10 years, she worked her way up from an editorial assistant at a publishing house to be a member of the board. In addition to her work with Magenta, Cathy works with a number of non-profit organisations such as Clowns Without Borders UK and Sussex Nightstop and acts as a foundation governor of a local school. She has three children and lives in Brighton.

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