Let’s face it, the past few years haven’t been easy for most people financially. It seems that the economic downturn, dubbed “the Credit Crunch” by the media, is still having a tangible effect on many of us today. This can be seen in a variety of areas, not least of which is in the seemingly unstoppable rise of the discount supermarkets. People are looking to get value for money, and to avoid – wherever possible – any unnecessary financial outlay.
Businesses are of course looking to get the best deal too. Cutting the financial outflow wherever possible, and ensuring that the products and services they purchase are doing their bit for return on investment.
But aside from the economic backdrop, how are the UK’s small businesses feeling these days? Towards the end of 2014, the Federation of Small Business (FSB) reported record confidence among small businesses. However, they also state in the report that this confidence is dependent on “pro-enterprise policies that will enable small businesses to grow, create jobs and pay their staff more”. So there is definitely a symbiotic relationship between government and independent business.
Regardless of the result of the general election, it’s definitely worth exploring ways to keep confidence within your SME as buoyant as it can be. So without further ado – here are our tips for SME Confidence:
The happy staff factor
Fighting inaccuracy with happiness may seem counterintuitive – after all, how often do we give ourselves a metaphorical slap on the wrist when we get something wrong? But results appear to bear out the theory that working on staff happiness rather than reprimanding for inaccuracy may be the way forward: a whopping 60% accuracy improvement was recorded by one firm who got staff to keep a ‘happiness journal’.
Morale is one of those difficult words if you’re in charge of a business or its HR function. For one thing, it’s always going to be largely unquantifiable. And, of course, if you were to go around asking staff how morale is, they would in many cases be apt to massage the truth rather than tell it like it is – for fear of ruffling feathers or saying the wrong thing.
Getting morale levels to where they can and should be (in other words, a good place) is usually not rocket science in terms of complexity, but can involve a bit of effort. In a recent article on workforce productivity published in Fresh Business Thinking, Dr Mark Winwood (Director of psychological health for AXA PPP healthcare) says that morale can be boosted by the following key behaviours:
- Recognising good work and expressing thanks for it
- Allowing staff to feel part of things and have a sense of ‘ownership’ by informing them of the company’s plans by sharing as much as possible with them
- Asking for, listening to, and acting on employee feedback
Oftentimes, it doesn’t take a lot of training or a big manual in order to effect change within an organisation. In fact, the most important thing is usually a clear and firm commitment from management that wellbeing is a central focus. Most businesses now fully see the wisdom in this – because, as the old saying goes, a firm’s biggest asset is its people.
Wellbeing doesn’t need to be limited to things like healthy eating – and for management teams who like to think creatively, there is some really great scope for engendering an environment that’s totally conducive to better physical and mental health – from fruit boxes to cycle schemes to mindfulness meditation – and beyond.