Why Looking After Your People is Vital In Business
Posted on: 27 Mar 2019
All organisations claim that “our people are our greatest asset.” It’s a hackneyed phrase and I know for a fact that not every business lives up to this statement.
At We Are Adam, we believe that investing in your people drives improved engagement and profitability. It’s why we’ve always put our money where our mouth is when it comes to looking after our people – staff and suppliers included. And, as our CEO Richard Gahagan reveals in the second article in this series, it’s paid off.
Mental Health Support, Coaching or Counselling for Everyone
In the past few years, we’ve had a number of staff raise the issue of mental health, anxiety and generally coping with the pressures of life and the working world. So for the past couple of years we’ve supported the team with external coaches, 1-1 coaching and counselling all done in a safe and confidential environment. The benefits to people’s lives has been nothing less than transformational and we strongly believe that the health and wellbeing of your team is a core responsibility for employers.
At a recent event discussing mental health with Sanctus I was asked the question “doesn’t this open you and your business to abuse from staff”. Put simply, no. Why? The team is a genuine team now and everyone looks after each other. Yes, we’ve exposed ourselves by opening up to a few people who frankly abused our good nature and weren’t “on the bus”, but by and large, far more people have benefitted, as has the culture and productivity of the business.
Away from the business, I’ve had very personal feedback about this approach, which I now realise has transformed peoples actual quality of life. For me that’s a game changer and certainly far more important than measures or “return on investment”.
Looking After Your Whole Team
Who do you think of as your team? Is it the people who turn up to your offices every day or do you include the suppliers of all the other services that make your business a success?
I’ve always been keen to recognise our entire team, including employees, suppliers, partners and supporters. After all, if you want to get the best from everyone who contributes to your business, you need to treat them well, without exception.
That’s why we have a range of ways to recognise our whole team and live up to our value of celebrating success. In 2018, we took our staff and some of our suppliers away to Porto. And we’ve celebrated the last two years with Christmas weekend getaways to stunning country houses in North Wales and Derbyshire.
Celebrating success should just be the icing on the cake. Looking after your team should flow through every part of the business. That means always honouring your obligations, always paying your suppliers, and paying them on time, supporting them in their endeavours. Not defaulting on your responsibilities or pushing the blame on others when the going gets tough, as has become the trend for some businesses.
Looking after your people isn’t all about rewards. I’m a firm believer in creating a working environment where everyone can succeed.
We Are Adam was one of the first recruitment agencies to pioneer flexible working. At the time, this was unheard of in our industry. Long hours with little flexibility were the norm and so was burnout and stress. We decided that this was something we had to avoid.
Flexible working meant we could help our people achieve a healthy work-life balance. Achieving this approach relied on having high levels of trust in our workforce. Not all business owners have sufficient conviction in their people to operate in this way. They worry about their staff failing to look after data outside the business. Or they think their staff will slack off and fail to hit their key performance indicators (KPIs).
Treating our people like adults and allowing them to determine the best way to go about their jobs is another value that makes We Are Adam stand out from the crowd. I’m pleased to say that we trust our staff to do their jobs and provide excellent service, wherever they choose to work from.
Creating this culture has been hard work and it’s required leadership from the front. But it has definitely paid off. Not only are our staff some of the most loyal in the business, but they’ve delivered over and above their targets to secure our best year yet.
Employee Benefits That Work For Our People
Alongside our culture of flexible working, we’ve also invested in employee benefits that are tailored to our people.
This includes health and wellbeing perks to ensure our people are well looked after both physically and mentally. Life can be challenging, so we wanted to make sure the entire We Are Adam team have access to the right treatment to help them heal more quickly.
This also enables us to provide our people with the support they need to meet their goals…
Progression Plans That Deliver on Two Fronts
Flexible working and benefits are one part of our total reward package. Another is career development. Instead of setting top-down goals that don’t consider what our people really want from work, we set self-managed progression plans.
In the same way that We Are Adam’s overall business plan helps me and the other directors deliver on our life goals, we want our business to fulfil our employees’ personal goals too. I see it as a natural courtesy to extend the way we want to work and live to our team.
This means we work with all our consultants to help them create a roadmap that fits their lifestyle and career objectives. Some goals have included:
- buying a house or a new car
- taking 10 holidays a year
- achieving better work-life balance
- coping with ill health
- dealing with stress, anxiety and a lack of confidence
Whatever our people want to achieve, we help them build a plan that includes business KPIs and then we give them the support to deliver it.
Looking after our team and making Adam a fantastic place to work is our core focus. And by doing this, we’ve proven that the business results follow.
Paying it Forward
Looking inwards is all well and good. But over the years, I’ve found that helping people outside your own organisation is a great way to establish a solid business underpinned by goodwill and solid relationships.
By paying it forward these relationships will keep you going when times are tough. I’ve been surprised by how often the goodwill we’ve built up over the years has come back to us. Sometimes exactly when we needed it.
That’s why I think it’s so important to never burn your bridges. You don’t know when you’ll meet someone again and by treating people with respect at all times, you can be certain that future encounters will be positive.
A good way to do this is to be active in your business community. By making an effort to help others you’ll get the same back, tenfold.
Helping others, both employees and business friends and acquaintances is at the core of our organisation. It’s certainly helped us through the tough times. And I’m convinced it will play an important part in We Are Adam’s future.
In the next article in this series, I’ll be delving into how walking the walk, not just talking the talk, pays off when it comes to culture and values.