CEOs and founders discuss how to engage your employees and cultivate talent for years to come.
How can employers
nurture unique talent and keep workers happy?
Recruiting great talent to your company is one of the key factors in driving business growth. Attracting talent is one thing, but how can employers nurture and cultivate an engaged and productive workforce so that good talent doesn’t fly out the window? Speaking on the second day Elite Business’ live event on March 10, Ally Maughhan, founder of People Puzzles, Matthew Phelan, Head of Global Happiness at The Happiness Index and Scott Mullins, CEO at Pimlico Plumbers revealed how important it is to create a happy and dynamic work culture where employees feel fulfilled. They discussed various ways to increase worker satisfaction in the office and how to make staff feel valued so companies can retain great talent.
Scott Mullins, CEO at Pimlico Plumbers explained how his company implements “in-house” perks and employee benefits to keep workers satisfied. Through these added initiatives, workers feel more valued and respected which boosts their morale and creates a more engaged workforce. “At Pimlico now, we have an in-house gym, we have a masseur that comes in four times a week, we have a subsidised canteen, we do employee of the month and they get a £200 voucher, we have a barbecue on the roof in the summer, and all these little bits and pieces they make people feel valued.” He added: “Value your employees. Make them know their worth. We’re a family-run business, make them feel part of that family. You’re all working together, you’re all drinking out of the same teapot. So just value them.”
More often than not, workers leave their roles due to their relationship with their manager, rather than because of the company itself, Ally explained. Which is why her company, People Puzzles conducts regular surveys to assess employee satisfaction and accommodate the needs of their staff. “What annoys people at work is stuff like red tape, irritating managers...” Ally said. “Most people leave a manager; they don’t leave a company. I think we can do a lot to increase happiness and stop doing things that make people unhappy. So, part of the reason we do staff surveys is we find out what annoys people, what wastes their time, what causes them frustration. If we can stop doing that, we can achieve happiness at work.”
For employers, it is important to create a flexible working environment for staff and accommodate their schedules to a certain extent. However, a working arrangement that may suit one person but could cause frustration to the other, so it is essential to understand that each employee works differently and implementing a blanket policy may not be best fit for everyone. We call it ‘freedom to be human’,” Matthew Phelan, Head of Global Happiness at The Happiness Index, explained. “I’m a bit like Ally in terms of the way that I work, so I dropped my kids off before I came here, that’s non-negotiable for me. However, what works for me might not work for other people. For example, when I go on holiday, I turn my phone and that’s it, you can’t get a hold of me. BMW does this thing where when you’re on holiday, if you email that person, you get an email back that says they’re not reachable until they return to the office. I thought that was brilliant, so I implemented it. I employ a lot of techies and a lot of people hated that. What I realised, what works for Scott and what works for Ally would be completely different. You’ve got to make it individual and allow different people to work in different ways. Some people are night people, some people are morning people.”
Ally provides her part-time staff with the flexibility to choose their shift patterns in their work rota, allowing them the option to choose when they’d like to take days off. Through this simple initiative, Ally said turnover decreased by a third, which goes to show how flexible working can keep staff satisfied happy and increase worker satisfaction. “We changed the staffing rota,” Ally said. “Before, the HR department used to assign part-time people shifts, and then they let people choose their shifts and staff turnover decreased by a third. Just by letting people choose. In a way, you can say, if you’re a founder of a business and you’ve got the privilege to choose when you work. But then it’s not very fair for me to do that and not extend the same opportunities. There are some jobs in our business where you have to work a particular pattern, like finance for example. But how can you make things flexible, how can you make people understand what they’re signing up for before they join you?”
Hiring young talent can bring a fresh perspective and different way of thinking into your business, and not mention, the younger generation also has a great affinity for technology. Most young workers are eager to learn and apply their skills in the workforce with a “can-do” attitude. Therefore, young employees can become a great asset into your team and businesses need to consider adopting formal trainee and apprenticeship schemes which can benefit both employers and young workers. “I feel if many businesses are missing the opportunity with apprenticeships, then they’re missing the boat big time. Because you get these youngsters, you give them a chance. We’ve got 70 apprentices now, 20 of them are ladies. Which is fantastic. And I’m goin to be honest with you, they’re actually better than the men... You’ve got to invest in apprentices and that for us is the way forward. There is a shortage, there is a problem there. I go to a lot of schools and it frustrates me because teachers are talking to these kids and all they know is university. I don’t have a problem with university, but what I am saying is you can get into debt, and there is no guarantee of a job. As an apprentice, you get paid while you’re working, you can earn while you learn, you have a guaranteed job for life and a very well-paid job.”