The evidence of this acceptance of the status quo is plain to see in Gallagher’s latest Benefits Strategy & Benchmarking Survey. The very things that could help build a better workplace culture — and, with that, employee trust, engagement and productivity — are being somewhat neglected. To give an example, despite over two-thirds (67%) of employers saying they face challenges appealing to a diverse workforce, the majority still seem to favour a one-size-fits-all approach: 78% offer no flexible benefits, 63% provide no voluntary benefits, 83% offer no savings beyond retirement savings, and 56% lack a pre-defined benefit communications budget.
At the same time, the UK seems to be hanging on by its fingernails to competitive edge.
The UK average employee turnover rate is approximately 15% a year, but this varies hugely region to region and across industries, reaching levels as high as 31% in sales and marketing, according to XpertHR.2 Meanwhile, it costs about £30,000 per person3 each time someone leaves. That excludes salary — it can take five to six months for people to simply become profitable.
But it’s not just the direct cost to the business of employee turnover that packs a punch. There are various other factors to consider that could arguably do much more damage long term, such as a drop in morale and engagement, plus a perception amongst customers, shareholders and potential employees that something is fundamentally amiss in your organisation.
Something has to change. The traditional top-down approach — people strategy dictated by the C-suite with zero input from your employees — needs to be turned on its head. It’s telling that nearly three in five (57%) don’t survey their employees about benefits and wellbeing, according to our benchmarking survey. How can you hope to tap into your employees’ psyche, understand what makes them tick, what motivates them to come to work and what will help ensure they stick around if you don’t take the trouble to actually speak with them? So important is this aspect that a totally new role has emerged in some big organisations: that of the listening officer, a role entirely dedicated to helping organisations get to know their people. And, in turn, informing decisions at board level. In short, those businesses that work better are bottom-up.
This necessitates a focus on organisational wellbeing: a holistic approach to physical, emotional, career and financial wellbeing that we call Gallagher Better Works.™ We focus on helping corporate clients make working life a better experience for all their people, improving the employer-employee relationship, boosting morale, engagement and, ultimately, productivity.
Research from the Social Market Foundation4 states that happy and engaged employees are up to 20% more productive, and further research from Gallup5 reveals that engaged employees can increase sales by up to 20%.
Don’t get me wrong; there’s a lot to be said for stoicism. But the same goes for knowing when to make a change. Better business depends on it.
* Weak workplace cultures help explain UK’s productivity woes, Gallup blog, October 2017
2 Labour turnover rates: XpertHR survey 2019, XpertHR, June 2019
3 Replacing an employee costs £30,000, report says, Acas, accessed October 2019
4 Working well: How employers can improve the wellbeing and productivity of their workforce, Social Market Foundation, 2016
5 Five ways to improve employee engagement now, Gallup, Accessed October 2019