employee engagement

Being a good employer – It’s the small things that matter

employee engagementI was talking to a fellow business owner the other week and he was bemoaning the fact that he couldn’t afford to put a decent employee benefits package together.  “It’s so difficult to compete with the big guys when they have their gym memberships, private healthcare and big employee engagement programmes.”   I asked him what he did to engage  his employees – he said “well nothing – as I’ve said, I can’t really afford it.”

This surprised me.  I’m not going to pretend I am some great benevolent employer but there are lots of small things a business can do to make their employees feel valued and engaged.  For one thing we always buy a birthday present and a card for our staff, we buy ice creams when it’s hot; we are really flexible when it comes to people needing to come in late or leave early and when our four graduates passed their induction we bought them chocolate Olympic medals.   We also invited then all to dinner the day before they started so we could all get to know each other.

We  close for Christmas week and   give away a few extra days of holiday rather then making staff take it out of their allowance.  We also give staff £50 when they join to buy a picture for our meeting room – so that there’s a bit of everyone’s personality in there – as well as something to remember people by if they leave.

We  try and empower staff as much as possible – our ‘fantastic four’ grads who joined us in May are working together on a specific business initiative for us – it’s totally their project and they have really taken ownership of it.  And when we decided to recruit four grads we left the first stages of the recruitment process completely to our managers ( even though I was itching to see the CVs).

So ok – we don’t have Google’s hang out area or Apple’s benefits programme – but even if I do say so myself – it’s the small things that really matter!





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7 thoughts on “Being a good employer – It’s the small things that matter”

  1. You are very right, and I really like the picture idea, which is a nice touch. Too many companies think they have to lay on loads of expensive things to match the bigger companies, and yet, for me it is more the attitude in the workplace that is the attractive piece. Fruit bowls; fridges of drink; relaxed dress codes; flexibility; football tables/pool tables; silly staff incentives for fun etc etc.
    There is no way smaller companies can compete on salary, benefits, cars and things like stock options and golden handshakes. But they can most definitely compete on being a great and respectful place to work – the sort of workplace that makes you want to go to work in the mornings.

  2. Thanks Andy – the picture idea is a real talking point whenever we have visitors as there is such an eclectic mix – from a framed gig poster of peter gabriel ( yes thats mine) to a banksy print!

  3. This is so true! These thoughtful personal touches can mean more than free gym membership to employees regardless of the companies size.

  4. It’s one thing doing these little things and another in actually selling it to potential new employees.

    Most small companies seem to be better at doing the first more than the second – which is odd given that doing the second thing is easier.

    As with a lot of things, it’s essentially a sales issue.

    1. You are so right. It took us a while to realise this ourselves – we weren’t great at selling the little things we did as we saw them as the norm rather than a benefit to our staff. We’ve learned though!

  5. We run a discount card scheme that small companies can use as a staff benefit scheme. The card costs £30 and saves an average user £1200 per annum. Discounts are available in 200 high street brand stores such as Asda, Sainsburys, Top Shop etc.
    Very small cost for big benefits.

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