People ahead of profit

For a business to be successful – particularly to become an employer of choice – its people must be tended to, cared for and supported to be at their very best.

I say this because our work with the Leadership Trust has really helped us to define how we have taken our businesses forward over the past few years, and helped our clients to progress theirs.

And this shift can be summarised around one simple premise. Your business is not a stand-alone entity. It is built upon the shoulders of your people, from the owner and leadership team to the team on the shop floor, and from your suppliers to your customers.

Leading by example

What has been really interesting about our ongoing leadership development programme within Haines Watts is the holistic nature of that training. We are not only expected to act like leaders, but to live and breathe the ‘people-first’ ethos.

We are accountants, yes. But we know that the true value of employees, suppliers, customers are affected by elements that are much harder to put a number to – how can you measure respect, happiness, fulfilment and hope?

Yet, these are factors that will all have a major impact on your bottom line, further down the line.

In that spirit, and since it is January – the perfect time to forge new, healthier work habits – here are my top tips for a truly happy and productive 2018.

Stop working all the time!

Pressure can be a constructive and inspirational force that drives your people to achieve great things. But you must be on the lookout for the moment that it transforms into its less productive cousin – stress.

Keep in mind that what is healthy pressure for one person may well be too much for another. So, keep channels of communication wide open, through regular team and company-wide meetings, and foster a culture where your people feel comfortable about talking openly about their experiences.

Record suggestions for improving things and show you are listening by implementing change.

Individual approach

Encourage your people to take control of their own work. Successful people are those who have the confidence to spend time planning their day. They don’t rush headlong into replying to emails and they don’t spend time thinking about how others want them to work – they focus on how they think they should work.

Make it clear that doing extra hours does not necessarily equate to good performance and implement a rule that work should, where possible, be done within normal hours. Place an embargo on emails at night so your people have proper time out.

Taking responsibility for time out

You can also suggest that employees make changes of their own, such as keeping technology out of the bedroom and getting good-quality exercise – not just a weekly trip to the gym, but walking whenever possible, taking part in team sports or learning yoga.

In fact, yoga can be brought into your working day quite easily – desk yoga, breathing exercises and mindfulness are all useful tools in combating stress and reducing the panic that literally stops productivity in its tracks.

Positive force for change

The result is happy people who are well rested and performing at their best. And, after a while, you will find that they will take ownership of healthy work practices and your culture of wellness embeds itself without any need for major investment.

So, this January, let’s make 2018 the year of helping our people achieve mental wellness at work.

What changes do you plan to implement in 2018 to improve your people’s working life?