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Employers, 9 hints to upgrade the workplace...

Employers, 9 hints to upgrade the workplace...

15 May 10:00 by Matthew Rollinson



I’ve caught up with a few companies about how to improve packages and workplace experience this week.


One book that really inspired me to do this recently was Jordan Peterson’s 12 rules of life. I find that one chapter in this book applies to us all as business owners.


Rule 2 was ‘treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping’. i.e. Do activities that help you out as a primary concern. With the observation that people will tend to look after others better than themselves.


The point Jordan Peterson makes is that very few amongst us would dream of not letting their dog or cat complete a course of medication, or knowingly allow our parents to pay too much for their utility bills etc without intervening.


Yet routinely; many people don’t finish their antibiotics and when was the last time you checked your own mobile phone bill was competitive…  


The point is we tend to put ourselves second, skipping the gym, eating badly, sleeping too little and I think we sometimes let this kind of stuff actually apply to our businesses too.


Onto the point of this article, I’m seeing this in employment packages that a bit of TLC here can and does lead to better employee-happiness and therefore higher staff retention.


Following reading this, look at your own business and ask, if it was your best friends company, or daughters company… what suggestions would you make?


Think of none of these as an expense, more an investment in your business’s greatest asset – your staff.


Before reading the below all of this is intended to be done as COVID-safe as possible and in every single case there is a company or person who has said to me that their business does this or I have seen it done personally. So you will not be a guinea pig either…


Here we go:


  • Bowls of fresh fruit, free for everyone in break rooms (leave a hand sanitiser next to the bowls and you’re away).
  • Long-Lunches / Wellness Time by which I just mean 2 hour lunch where a person could get to the gym, town centre, sort out some administration it’s hard to do in evening / weekend (I’m selling a house right now and my Lawyer doesn’t work evenings or weekends!) this is time to do life-stuff for their wellness and mental health. You will also find that work is like gas, it fits any space it’s put into. In fact did you know that productivity actually does drop away after 35 hours works so in an average 40 hour week, inversely, this may actually increase productivity. Some places do a ‘pick a Friday afternoon of the month’ the point is its company paid time to keep life ticking over better.  
  • Arrange a staff discount system outside of work. There are several options one I like is Perkbox which means your staff get discounts on things from Costa Coffee to their washing machine or dishwasher etc amongst other benefits. This also would alleviate some stress with staff of something ‘big ticket’ going wrong at home!
  • Health Care Cover is a wonderful way of showing caring about staff, I ran a quote from Vitality Health in writing this blog and they’re £20 + change per employee each month I’m sure it varies from company to company but I personally found that surprisingly cheap. I know it would mean a great deal more than offering the same £240 a year as a raise on someones salary.
  • Pension advice – in 2008 it became law that everyone had to expressly ‘opt out’ of a pension meaning the vast majority of workers will be in their workplace scheme now. Every pension however has a range of funds and they perform differently an adviser can make sure your staff are on the best funds and ensure this pension works as hard as possible for every £1 going in. Again this impacts on wellness as saving for retirement can be a source of stress and knowing this is being taken care of is a positive feeling.  
  • If you are on the standard 5%/3% pension then perhaps increase your pension contribution by 1% for every year of service worked. Take your pick on why this is a good move, it has the impact after 3+ years of making any other job move inferior on the matter of pension, helps your staff out, and tangibly encourages long service with a beautiful message of “we see our working relationship in terms of decades not years”. We personally do this up to 10% from LiCa (can be matched by employee) so a 20% pension or someone here after 7 years.  
  • Nice food. We all love a nice artisanal pizza. So, say on the last Wednesday or Thursday of every quarter arrange for a caterer like a wood fired pizza van to be on site or fish and chips for the staff, should cost about £15-£20 a head if wedding caterers are anything to go off. Every town has someone doing this and mid-week is a great time to book them!
  • At LiCa Scientific, we have a drinks fridge that I personally take a great pride in making sure everyones favourite beverages are in so J2O’s, Fentemans, Dr Pepper, beers and ciders as well in our case! I’m all for a mug of coffee too but it’s just nice to get a cold drink from there and again same as I would at home. That cost about £300 to fully set up. I actually have a gripe with any paid-for vending machine charging £1 for a can of drink in a workplace. Flipping this on it’s head, imagine if it cost you £1 a drink if working from home… Not acceptable is it? For the sake of a few hundred pounds this massively helps the atmosphere at work and again communicates a message of caring about the experience of being there.
  • Finally – details. Recently on the High Performance Podcast, I heard Toto Wölf tell a story how upon arriving at the Mercedes F1 Team, the first thing he noticed was the newspapers in the reception were out of date and there were some used coffee cups left out. His point was how are Mercedes meant to win an F1 Championship if they can’t even keep an in-date newspaper on a coffee table and clean it from the night before! Now, MD’s and CEO’s may well pick up on this, but be assured employee’s pick up a hell of a long time ahead of them. Toto Wölf made the point that any talk of ‘best in class’ work, rings very hollow, if details such as this aren’t taken care of… and the same talk is reinforced when they are.


Hopefully in the above list you’ll see something you can do in your own organisation.


Finally, if you want to take a deeper dive into analysing the market in your own field of work, we regularly also produce in-depth salary surveys and generate other information such as this for clients to build a winning hiring strategy - and are happy to discuss doing this for you anytime!


Matthew Rollinson


May 2021