Responsible Business Week - Employee Welfare
Responsible Business Week – Employee Welfare
A responsible business is committed to building a fairer society and a more sustainable future, with Business In The Community breaking this down into five key areas. Today we focus on Employee Welfare.
Part of Access Point's series of articles for Responsible Business Week 2016
Mental illness, long –term absence and workplace stress are all increasing in the UK. On top of that we are currently facing a productivity crisis with the ONS reporting that Britain is 18% below the average for productivity in the G7. That’s 36% behind Germany and 30% behind the USA. We’re even 5% below Spain, a country that has a work culture which includes a siesta! So what are the causes of all of this? Certainly they are more varied than the scope of this writing. But there is one that stands out and it’s something that workplaces and employers have the power to change right now: employee welfare.
There is a huge amount of legislation, best practices and white papers already covering employee welfare and how to improve it. However we want to show how Access Point has concentrated its efforts on fulfilling the needs of its employees to revolutionise our workplace. This has enabled it to become an employer of choice, with a highly engaged and motivated workforce in addition to being more successful than ever.
The key to ensuring employees are happy and fulfilled at work is the same as it would be for a person outside of work. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs provides a simple way of looking at this. At the bottom you have the most basic requirements for life and as you move upwards the needs become more complex, ultimately leading to self-actualisation.
Physiological Needs –Physiological needs refer to the most basic requirements for life as a human being: food, air and water for example. For Access Point this is found in our commitment to The Living Wage. If employees are wondering how they are going to feed themselves for the month or whether they will still have a roof over their heads come pay day, how can we expect them to be performing at their best in work? What long term effects is that going to have on morale? Not only that but Access Point has always seen itself as more than just a workplace, we see ourselves as a family and a family should never treat its members that way.
Safety – Safety for employees in an office environment is often overlooked. Once you’ve been through the Health and Safety booklet, the job is done. But safety is so much more than just physical. Safety can also mean security and support. This means that employees know that long before it comes time for disciplinary meetings or resignations they can approach their line managers and colleagues, speak to them about a situation whether it be within the workplace or in their personal lives and receive all the support possible to enable them to face it knowing they have the full backing of their employer.
Love and belonging – This is one we really can’t take all the credit for. Access Point has always excelled at being a place where people can truly belong. It’s a family through and through, we even nickname our MD Jeanette Morgan and CEO David Robertshaw Mum and Dad! For us this means that we laugh together, we celebrate together and we commiserate together. From squeaking the pig on your first sale (ringing a bell is so clichéd) to Summer parties on the roof, the traditional Mr and Mrs game before a wedding or baby name sweepstakes in the office, Access Point is always on hand (whether they like it or not) to celebrate our employees and all they do in and out of the office.
Esteem – All human beings have a need to feel respected and valued but how do you convey that in an office? You can always celebrate achievements for sales staff beating targets or the announcement of a birth. However, how do you make sure that everyone in a company knows their value every day? Training and development is one way used by Access Point. After all what better way to let your employees know you value them than to invest in their future and careers? It doesn’t matter if they’re going to stay with you until retirement or leave in a year, helping your employees to be more and to be better is always going to be in a company’s best interests. To put it in marketing terms, make your employees brand ambassadors wherever they go. The second way is by investing seriously in their environment. With the purchase of our new home in a converted magistrate’s court in 2014 we took a big new step towards this. Ensuring that our employees would always have a great place to work in as well as fun and interesting spaces to relax and enjoy themselves in. From our grand Art Deco foyer, to the Hawaiian rooftop terrace and Pop Art inspired diner, The Old Courthouse is an inspiring place to be and makes everyone who walks through the doors proud to work here.
Self-actualisation – Self-actualisation of course means different things to different people. While the other levels can differ in terms of their priority for people or the degree and way they are achieved: physiological needs and safety are needs and belonging and esteem are things you can feel. Self-actualisation means something altogether different. It refers to the extent to which a person has achieved their potential, further than this it can mean the level to which a person has transcended that need and given back to others. Access Point, is when all is said and done, just an office. It can do a great deal to support our employees and help them do their best in life, but we’re not some Zen monastery on a mountaintop, or Cave of Wonders. What we can do though is help our employees to find it on their own. Access Point for the past two years has offered their employees the chance to take part in some amazing, once in a lifetime opportunities and to give back to their community.
In 2014 Access Point sent our senior team to Kiruna in the Arctic Circle to dog sled, ice fish and sleep in igloos, it was more than just an adventure holiday of course; it provided them with the chance to relate to each other and learn to think big and innovatively in an environment that would truly challenge them. In 2015 we sent nine members of staff to Vietnam, where they would not only get the chance to explore one of the most interesting and beautiful countries in the world but to help build a toilet block in a poor, rural area called Mai Chua for a local kindergarten. On a more local level, we have spent a number of years supporting our local Foodbank and have committed to donating 100 hours of volunteer time in 2016 to local environmental causes.
All of this helps to make sure that Access Point staff have the best chance they can of discovering what self-actualisation means to them by being supported and encouraged in giving back and offered the chance to take part in things that few people will ever get the chance to do. Access Point prides itself on being a customer focussed company; they are the controlling function in everything we do. However, we also know that it is our employees who are the ones that are facing them and supporting everything the company does for them. Ensuring our employees are performing at their best, that they do not lack for anything we can provide them with and that they are supported at every stage of their careers and their lives is what this means. It’s a big commitment for any company, but the rewards are bigger still.
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