01 Oct Creating a positive work culture isn’t just about being nice: it pays
Work culture feeds into all aspects of a business. Smart leaders know that their treatment of employees dictates how likely a person is to stay in a company and the value they will bring. Should that employee leave, it determines how many talented people will apply for their job and ultimately, take the business to the next level.
But interestingly, it also dictates how likely consumers are to buy a product. Our recent whitepaper, Responsible Growth: A new era of responsibility, shows that 69% of respondents will buy a more expensive product over a cheaper one if it comes from a more socially aware company. Treatment of employees, 75% of those surveyed said, plays a large part in their judgement of a company.
Our findings are clear: companies simply can’t afford to treat their workforce badly — or even mediocrely. The workplace is no longer a place to be endured; it’s a place where people want to feel a sense of self-worth and importance. Employees demand it, and so do customers.
So how do you keep workers happy? There’s no magic solution and at Ricoh Ireland, we are working hard to find the right formula that keeps staff stimulated, fully engaged and healthy. At the moment, our internal research shows that about 50% of our employees are ‘highly engaged’ in their work — compared to 22% in 2013 — and a further 30% are ‘engaged’. This means that half of our workforce are effectively model employees: they love what they do, inspire their teammates and actively look for ways to help others. The most any company can hope for is about 60% highly engaged and we are confident that we will get to and exceed that point.
To maximise engagement — and with it, productivity — regular feedback from your workforce is vital. At Ricoh, we carry out online review processes that look at each individual and seek to find out how we can improve their experience — whether it’s training and development, or providing them with more incentive to perform. Incentive, by the way, isn’t always about money. Just 31% of our survey respondents cited regular pay rises as ‘very important’, while positive work culture was very important to 53%.
To create a positive working environment, employers must regularly acknowledge a job well done. It sounds simple, but recognition is one of the most valuable things you can give an employee. It motivates them to excel and gives them a great sense of self-worth within the company. What we have found extremely successful is our Lighting the Way initiative. If an employee is particularly impressed with a co-worker, they can praise them using our online rewards system. The person they have chosen then receives an e-card telling them of their great work and they are also entered into a monthly prize draw.
Of course, much of how a person feels is beyond the control of their employer. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help. Encouraging employees to be active and healthy will impact their mental health, productivity and attendance. Even simple initiatives like supplying fresh fruit in the workplace can make a difference. In our office of 73 people, the cost is almost negligible. We also regularly organise team sporting challenges and encourage everyone to get involved. Most recently, we ran a month-long pedometer challenge. The team that clocked up the most steps, won a prize.
But work culture isn’t just about making employees feel good when they’re in the office. As Millennials populate the workforce en masse — soon to be joined by Generation Z — the impact businesses have on the world around them is becoming increasingly important. Employees don’t just want to be productive for their own companies: they want to give back to society and the environment. Many companies now give days off for staff to pursue their own charitable endeavours, or they organise charity events as a team. At Ricoh Ireland, we offer staff two paid days per year to work with a charity of their choice. Such initiatives are why we were awarded the Business Working Responsibly Mark by Business in the Community Ireland.
Today, it’s incredibly difficult to retain talent. If a person is good at what they do, they can pick and choose who to work for. They no longer have to settle for mediocrity — they can find a job and company that they love, with plenty of perks thrown in as well. Companies must position themselves as employers of choice; places that talented people specifically target in their job searches. That is what we aim for in Ricoh Ireland and that is why we will always put our workforce first — and encourage others to do so, too.