Why SMEs should think of today’s employees as consumers
5 min read
17 February 2016
You’re paying your staff, so they should be satisfied with that, right? Wrong. Real Business has discovered that today’s employees should absolutely be viewed by bosses as consumers if they truly want to make their businesses successful hubs of productivity.
In conjunction with the University of Manchester’s professor of psychology and health, Sir Cary Cooper, people management software provider BrightHR has revealed that it it pays to play in the working world.
“Work is such a large part of people’s lives and is becoming more so as working hours increase and our ability to remotely complete work tasks develops too. When we spend so much of our time at work, it’s important to ensure that it’s an environment conducive to a healthy and happy lifestyle,” said Cooper.
Companies such as Google can be pointed at for consumers looking for a great work-life balance. The internet giant’s benefits have become the stuff that mere office workers can only dream of – with free food, on-site nurses, slides, sleeping areas – leaving plenty of employees wanting.
Of course, while the average SME will find it tricky to introduce a slide onto the premises, there are simple solutions to keep staff engaged and satisfied.
The fact of the matter is that employees are becoming more like consumers in today’s working world, and bosses should try and satisfy workers in the same way they want to please loyal customers. Do so, and the effects will be considerable.
Cooper continued: “Much of my experience with companies over the last 40 years focuses on how you can prevent stress and help people to flourish. This means focusing on developing a culture that prioritises employee experience and wellbeing as a key driver for increased performance.”
Part of the change in working expectations has been driven by the rise, and expectations, of millennials – those born between 1980 and 2000 – which are increasing in workplace dominance. Indeed, the world around them has been entirely different to the one the generation before them experienced.
The study revealed that work environments needn’t be serious for every minute of every day, believing that “it pays to play” as workers, of all ages, will feel motivated and committed with the opportunity to be creative.
So how can workplace fun be defined? The answers taken from 2,000 British employees were varied, but included:
• Having great colleagues who they enjoy spending time with
• Doing work-related tasks that are interesting and fulfilling
• Having a physical environment that feels fun and relaxed
• Achieving work goals
• Celebrating colleagues’ special occasions
• Clocking-off time
• Non-work activities, such as games or social events provided by the company
Read more on fun in the workplace:
- Five alternative corporate away days to shake things up
- Worried your business is stale? Here are 50 things to make it cool
- The five best and worst companies to work for
Alarmingly, over a third of the employees surveyed said their workplace had been devoid of fun for the past six months. In the event you’re worried your company could fall into this trap, it turns out the desires of staff are actually quite manageable.
The top five activities to make work a more fun place:
(1) Dress down Friday – 25 per cent
(2) Office parties/nights out – 21 per cent
(3) A pool table – 19 per cent
(4) An office pet – 18 per cent
(5) Wellbeing massage days – 17 per cent
Other suggestions for fun included a lottery syndicate, charity fundraisers, bake-offs, table tennis, computer consoles and a choir. A knitting club was even a suggestion, truly making it clear how quick and pain-free implementation can be.
It’s not just a matter of letting staff get their own way though, for there are psychological benefits that can be created as a result.
Dress down Friday is said to create trust and comfort between a boss and employees; parties create bonds and social support; massages can fight stress and refresh the mind.
Although older workers may consider “play” childish, Cooper rightly described “fun” as “ageless”. To that end, in a way that a business knows its audience, bosses should know their staff – or the consumers.
“I urge employers to look at fostering a culture of positive psychological wellbeing. We know positive emotions help make people happy and that, in turn, happy people are productive, loyal and generally have higher levels of wellbeing than those who aren’t,” said Cooper.
If you are looking to change your company culture to drive more fun in the workplace, here are five companies you should never copy for inspiration.