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Amid the financial juggling which of necessity characterises any Budget these days came a few nuggets of gold for businesses which are trying to recognise and reward the work of their employees.
First off came the acknowledgement that “Employee ownership helps create an enterprise culture.” Accordingly to help to boost levels of employee ownership the Chancellor has announced that the Government is “making our new employee shareholder status more generous, with NICs and income tax relief.” And for those employees who decide to take the concept of employee ownership to a new level the Government is also “introducing capital gains tax relief for sales of businesses to their employees.”
But it is not just in employee ownership that the Government is to help businesses which want to add a little extra to their employee package. So the limit for tax free loans for items such as season tickets is to be doubled to £10,000 and companies that look after their employees with return to work schemes after periods of sickness will also receive help through the tax system.
For businesses that genuinely care about their employees these announcements are welcome but in truth they will mean little if the commitment to employee welfare and engagement is not running through the company’s veins. Help with a season ticket is always welcome but if the company culture is for employees to always be at their desks from seven in the morning until late at night then the season ticket loan is less of a perk and more a chain to slavery. Similarly, phased return to work schemes mean little if the illness was caused by the stress of over-work or a toxic bullying culture.
So whilst businesses may well want to make the most of any Government scheme which adds to the employee tie-in; organisations which genuinely care about employee engagement would do well to look away from monetary considerations and towards developing a culture which fosters engagement. And let’s be clear, employee engagement is not just a fluffy exercise to make employees feel better. Study after study has shown that engaged employees are more productive, have better relationships with customers and suppliers, help the reputation of the organisation to grow and increase profits.
For Culture Consultancy, Employee Engagement is achieved through the right formula being present in terms of the Purpose, Policies, Relationships, Enablement, Environment and Well Being of the organisation and its employees. It means developing a strong vision and then communicating that vision in a way in which employees genuinely feel that they are a valuable part of the organisational team rather than expensive cannon fodder.
Better still, some of the routes towards employee engagement don’t cost anything apart from a changed mindset. Ask yourself when was the last time you genuinely asked for ideas from employees rather than issuing directives. Employees are stuffed full of knowledge about the organisation’s day to day operations and processes. If wastage is on the increase, rather than issuing an instruction or threatening action, why not ask for suggestions. That simple gesture will focus minds on wastage and tap into that knowledge base which is otherwise ignored. Praising those who come up with workable solutions brings the double bonus of making employees feel more valued and creating a wastage champion.
Listening, asking for ideas, communicating are all simple ways to engage employees in the overall vision of the organisation. Engagement is a win-win situation. Happier and more productive employees working within the organisational vision are more likely to be innovative and proactive and to generate increased profits. Engaged employees are more likely to stay and an organisation with a reputation for engagement is more likely to attract the best recruits.
In summary, whilst we wouldn’t dispute the Chancellor’s statement that “Employee ownership helps create an enterprise culture” we would go further and say that “employee engagement creates a highly skilled, productive, innovative and profitable organisation.”