It?s great to see the UK?s unemployment figures dropping to an all-time low ? 74.81 per cent people are now in work, and it?s the best since records began in 1971. Putting this good news to one side for a moment, having more people in jobs means that business owners have to be more savvy about who they?re employing, whilst making sure that their employees are happy in return. Less people searching for jobs always pushes up the wage costs. Companies are fishing from a pool of people that?s gradually diminishing, whilst competing with one another to offer a reasonable salary, to candidates who, if they have the skills and experience, are operating in a ?sellers-market?. Because of this, business owners have to get creative and look at different means of attracting potential candidates to their companies, and one tactic to consider are employee perks. After all, the hiring process can be a gruelling and expensive process and having a high-staff turnover and recruiting time and time again is not practical management. We as employers should be trying to make our employees happy enough to ?go the distance?. Interestingly enough, I saw some figures saying that four out of ten employees claimed that one-off employee perks don?t provide long-term happiness, which makes total sense to me. Occasional gestures are all well and good, but for the long-term, a proper suite of benefits is needed to retain a productive work force. The study showed that employee perks such as early finishes, team lunches and company drinks have been offered by employers over the past year. But for 43 per cent of people asked, these perks don?t have the long-lasting impact that their employers are hoping for. We clearly need to be looking at longer-term solutions that pay mind to what actually makes our staff happy and keeps them happy. The survey found that 58 per cent of the respondents felt that political and economic uncertainty has resulted in them feeling particularly pessimistic and having fears of redundancy or an increasing workload. Feeling like this on a daily basis can?t be good for staff contentment and drive, and only an abysmal 15 per cent actually feel optimistic about their futures at their present company. These feelings were particularly common across SMEs, in which current affairs and political changes could have a direct, detrimental effect on the company. That?s why at Pimlico Plumbers I try to do all I can to create a sense of togetherness and, whilst you can?t pinpoint exactly what makes an employee stay, making a conscious effort to maintain motivation, happiness and self-confidence through employee perks is a simple way of trying. For instance, the Pimlico caf? is subsidised so that my employees can grab something top-notch to eat at reduced rates, recharge their batteries and socialise in the meantime. I?ve also spent time developing a free 24-hour gym with state-of-the-art, complete with personal trainers and fitness classes. I also try to reward work well done with schemes like employee of the month. The scheme is growing at a rate of knots every month and each winner gets ?200 to spend in my favourite London restaurant, Langan’s Brasserie. It?s a great way to reward the achievements and hard work of your people and give them something special. You don?t have to throw lots of money at something to create a strong incentive. When SMEs are in the position to make an addition to the company, leaders might find it difficult competing with the big-wigs for the best people. Early finishes, dress-down days and staff socials are all great, cost-effective ways to try to strengthen working relationships and add that extra bit of happiness to someone?s day. If our employees are happy, surely that?s going to fuel their drive and be the deciding factor between them taking another job or staying, progressing and contributing to a company?s cause.
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