When does a good employer become a great employer?

Published: 22 May 2017

Speak to any employee and you will soon be able to gauge the answer. Employees are the essential fabric of every business, and how they are treated, managed and nurtured is the very cornerstone of a business’s success.

Sir Richard Branson famously said: “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” So how does your company fare when it comes to being considered “a great employer”?

Getting the formula right is different for every business, however here are a few key areas that the best of the best, large and small, ensure they do…

EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT

Decidedly a “buzz” word these days, but what does it really mean? Well, in short, making time to listen. Listen to staff and welcome their ideas and suggestions. Feeling part of an organisation by having a “voice that’s heard” integrates staff into the success of the business, improving morale and productivity. Introducing new ideas, large or small, can make the world of difference; from simply supplying fresh fruit for the office to giving paid birthdays off.

CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY (CSR) TEAM

Once considered something only multi-national organisations undertook, more and more progressive businesses are introducing CSR into the heart of their business, and not just to organise the annual Christmas party. Forming a CSR team allows any member of staff to participate, integrate and drive forward ideas, incentives and initiatives which the whole company can feel part of. From organising charitable events/fundraisers to steering the business towards minimising their carbon footprint, a CSR team ensures it happens, rather than well-intended conversations.

Gill Whyte

HARNESS YOUR EMPLOYEES’ SKILLS – ALL OF THEM

Only seeing employees for the work they do in the workplace can be short sighted. Great employers appreciate their employees’ interests and skills beyond the office doors.

CONSIDERATION OF FLEXIBLE WORKING

Flexible working arrangements are not always practical within some businesses. All employees have the right to request flexible working – not just parents and carers – and the employer must seriously consider the request, ensuring they are treating all employees fairly. Employees who need flexible working arrangements appreciate the adjustments and often feel more motivated and less stressed.

MISSION COMPANY ETHOS

Ask any employee what their company’s “ethos” or “mission” is and you will get a wide range of answers, often when they work for the same business. But the employees of great employers are “bought into” the company’s vision; they see it as clearly as the employer themselves – and it shows.

Gill Whyte

FAIR AND UNAMBIGUOUS ACROSS THE BOARD

Employees have literally hundreds of statutory rights and a great employer ensures these are respected, alongside bespoke policies and procedures created specifically for their business. The key to being a successful employer is ensuring that the business AND the employees understand AND follow them. Great employers treat everyone fairly and unambiguously – without exception.

REWARDS AND INCENTIVES

Everyone likes to hear they are “doing a good job”, but sometimes going that bit further when it comes to rewarding employees goes a long way to employee happiness and company morale. It needn’t be expensive gestures as many great employers incentivise their staff with schemes such as “employee of the month” recognition/certificates or early finish Fridays; identifying hard work and appreciating employees across the board encourages the whole company to strive and achieve together.

Gill Whyte is a local HR and H&S consultant with Avensure Ltd, a national consultancy business specialising in employment and health and safety law. Avensure is sponsoring the Employer of the Year category at this year’s Elevator Awards, which celebrate business excellence, entrepreneurial behaviour and outstanding community contributions made by top businesses in Aberdeen city and shire across a variety of categories. Applications are open online at www.elevatorawards.com with a closing date of 5pm on Friday, March 10, 2017. The black-tie awards ceremony will be held at the Mercure Aberdeen Ardoe House Hotel on Thursday, June 29, 2017.

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