How to keep your employees happy and engaged

Small Business Advice 31 August 2017

With a smaller number of staff, the contribution of every employee in an SME is critical. According to a study, employees of small businesses are working an average of eight extra hours every week at work or at home. The main reason for SME workers doing so many extra hours is to keep up with the volume of work, followed by pressure from their manager and more positively, wanting the business to do well. However, this is leading to nearly half of people feeling more stressed, and over a third feeling taken for granted by their employer. This could pose a great risk for small businesses as they could lose such skilled employees. For that reason, keeping staff happy needs to be top priority for businesses as it can majorly affect productivity levels. So how can SMEs keep their employees happy without extra costs?

Employee benefits (perks) are non-salary compensation that can vary from company to company. Benefits are indirect and non-cash payments within a compensation package.  They are provided by companies in addition to salary to create a competitive package for current and potential employees. When merchant services provider Paymentsense asked 2,000 people which perks viewed as most desirable, unlimited holiday and early finish Fridays were amongst the top 10 most popular, as agreed by 35% of respondents.

Obviously, there are some perks that can cost money but our research shows that at least half of them don’t have to cost a fortune and can make a lot of difference. Just like our card readers.

The top 10 perks people want:

Early finish Fridays 35%

Unlimited holiday 35%

Bonuses (company wide) 32%

Flexible hours 30%

Day off for duvet day/birthday holiday/moving house holiday 28%

Performance based bonuses 25%

Gym membership 22%

Remote working 21%

Free fruit/snacks 18%

Extra training 15%

Early finish Fridays

Work-life balance has become commonplace in recent years, but what about chopping two hours off your normal eight hour Friday? Some wonder if allowing employees to work shorter hours is a waste of money. Others argue it’s a sound investment that increases productivity. Several of Sweden’s biggest employers have experimented with a six-hour working Friday, with the intention of boosting motivation and efficiency. The results have been promising: for example, Toyota introduced the policy in 2002 and reported it led to a happier workforce and a decrease in staff turnover. It’s definitely worth trying and doesn’t cost much.

Unlimited holiday

While an unlimited holiday allowance might sound like a business nightmare people would happily give up part of their salary if they could take off as much time as they wanted provided they do not interfere with their business duties.

Bonuses (company wide)

Company wide bonuses can help increase the motivation, team work and alignment of your team to common goals. Always remember to share your business goals with your employees on a frequent basis and reward them with a bonus when these targets are achieved. And the bonus doesn’t have to be a huge one. Start by calculating how much more your business could make in a specified time period and keep a percentage of the profit for the bonus.

Flexible hours & Remote Working

There is an element of admin work involved in running a flexible working scheme, but the relaxed attitude and easy booking system keep this perk relatively hassle free. Employees either make up their working hours on another day or work remotely. It’s a simple, low-cost perk that wins points from employees who enjoy the work-life balance it provides.

Day off for duvet day/birthday holiday/moving house holiday

A free day off here and there: for birthdays, duvet days or to help with moving house are the amongst most sought-after benefits and it doesn’t cost a lot for companies.

Performance based bonuses

This has to do with individual goals set for a specific period of time and includes a bonus based on performance. They come in a variety of forms, from short-term contests to a regular incentive program. Not all bonus programs are created equal; they work best when tailored to your staff’s unique job responsibilities and needs. If you are struggling to set this up, it’s better to start offering the collective objectives / company wide bonus.

Gym membership

Gym membership doesn’t have to be expensive and of course companies do not have to cover the whole membership fees. If you set up a deal with a local gym and provide a discount for your employees it’s still a win.

Free fruit/snacks

They say health and happiness come hand in hand, and so encouraging your staff to get their vitamin fix is a better alternative to a vending machine packed with sugary snacks.

Extra training

This could involve paid or free professional training courses depending on the nature of each job. If you can’t afford to pay for staff training at least you can provide some time off for free courses/workshops.

Your organisation cannot move forward without people. 

More than a third of employees admitted perks and benefits are amongst their top consideration before accepting a new job. And creating a rewarding company culture doesn’t mean that you have to break the bank.  Keeping employees happy should be a top priority for all businesses, given its impact on productivity levels. Employers/entrepreneurs must value the time, effort and mental clarity of each individual in order to see a positive impact on the bottom line and staff engagement rates. The best way to keep employees happy, productive and engaged is to create a strong company culture by embracing employee benefits.

About Paymentsense

Paymentsense is Europe’s leading small business card machine provider enabling over 70,000 SMEs to process over £6 billion worth of card payments per year. From card machines to semi-integrated solutions and payment gateways, Paymentsense supplies small businesses with card processing solutions that allow them to take payments in store, online, over the phone and on the move.

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