Leadership & Productivity

Putting a sexy spin on duvet day: There are interesting ways to boost happiness

5 min read

19 November 2018

I know we’re much more broad-minded these days, but even I was slightly taken aback by the latest Swedish contribution to the perennial debate on driving up productivity.

Sweden may be famous for its openness, but this latest suggestion certainly doesn’t involve the provision of free meatballs, pickled herring or a staff discount on flat-pack furniture.

Typically, Stockholm-based sex and intimacy brand LELO has come up with a revolutionary new concept of offering its workers “self-love days”.

This involves giving employees an extra four days off a year to, errr….put a smile on their faces, if you get my drift.

Blimey! And I thought I was doing well providing my Pimlico staff with a subsidised canteen, free 24/7 gym facilities, an employee of the month scheme and a pull-out-all-the-stops Christmas party – which all seems a bit on the tame side.

Pimlico does offer staff massage sessions three times a week to relieve those workday aches. But just in case anyone from LELO is reading this, I must stress our massages are conducted by a professional therapist.

While I’ve not been so embarrassed since the release of Britain’s worst sex comedy ‘Adventures of a Plumber’s Mate’ in 1978 (featuring the late great Arthur Mullard), there is a really serious issue here.

SMEs across the country have been struggling to find the final piece in the puzzle to increase labour productivity rates – and given the continuing lack of confidence surrounding Brexit – it requires an urgent solution.

The latest Office for National Statistics figures for April to June this year are, on the face of it, encouraging. It says labour productivity, measured by output per hour, grew by 1.4% compared with the same quarter last year. It is also 0.5% up on the previous quarter.

However, this is markedly below the long-term trend before 2008 when productivity growth averaged 2% per year.

In addition, the statistics reveal earnings and other labour costs are still outstripping productivity growth, resulting in a unit labour cost growth of 2%.

This is of very real concern to SMEs who must motivate and support their staff to generate the necessary profits to keep things afloat.

I’m not advocating a return to the days of the Victorian mills when workers were treated little better than animals. Far from it. I want to support my people with the latest training and technology that will allow them to work more efficiently and productively.

But I also want to make them feel part of the team – not just a faceless unit on an accountant’s spreadsheet whose contribution to the business is unappreciated.

Pimlico’s success is based on making a connection with our customers and maintaining a reputation for providing a great service.

A motivated and happy worker is one of the best adverts for a business you can have, and word-of-mouth recommendations remain a really important foundation for many an SME – especially in these days of social media.

So that is why I introduced the motivational incentives at Pimlico to ensure I have a happy and contented people. It is important that everyone feels appreciated.

I truly believe a happy workforce is a productive workforce. This premise is one of the reasons behind Pimlico recording revenue of £9.95m between June and August this year, the busiest summer in our 39-year history.

I’m not sure if LELO is just after a bit of easy publicity or if theirs is a seriously sexy spin on the traditional ‘duvet day’.

They reckon self-love days – which are being trialled in the UK – create happiness through self-pleasure, although I’m not sure how they are going to check their staff hasn’t just gone fishing instead!

What I do know is that putting a smile on your employees’ faces is really important and, given this latest twist, there’s obviously many an interesting method of achieving it!