Low-cost ges­tures can be highly ef­fec­tive in rais­ing staff morale

Straight-talk­ing, com­mon sense from the front line of man­age­ment

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - SIR JOHN TIMPSON John Timpson is the chair­man of high street cob­bler and key-cut­ter Timpson. Send him an email at: [email protected]­graph.co.uk

QPro­vid­ing perks and ben­e­fits to im­prove staff hap­pi­ness and well-be­ing makes com­plete sense to me, but as a cash-strapped small com­pany, I can’t take the team abroad once a year or hand out gym mem­ber­ships. What low-cost things can I of­fer my em­ploy­ees?

Al­though we have a string of free-stay hol­i­day homes and hold reg­u­lar con­fer­ences in mem­o­rable lo­ca­tions, it’s of­ten the things that cost very lit­tle that are most ap­pre­ci­ated.

Why not give all of your col­leagues an extra day of paid hol­i­day on their birth­day? A se­nior di­rec­tor of a big busi­ness re­cently told me that giv­ing ev­ery mem­ber of staff their birth­day off would be too ex­pen­sive, but in my ex­pe­ri­ence, it costs noth­ing and the good­will cre­ated pays off in greater loy­alty and fewer sick­ies.

An­other in­ex­pen­sive ges­ture is the hand­writ­ten let­ter. If you’re tempted to send one of your col­leagues an email to say “well done”, think again. Pick up a pen, write a proper let­ter and put it in a hand­writ­ten en­ve­lope made out to their home ad­dress. You can

Amake staff feel re­ally ap­pre­ci­ated by en­clos­ing a £50 cheque (tax paid).

You sel­dom buy staff hap­pi­ness or loy­alty by foot­ing the bill for an am­bi­tious bo­nanza of ben­e­fits. The most im­por­tant in­gre­di­ents are time, con­sid­er­a­tion and kind­ness, so spend part of ev­ery day talk­ing to in­di­vid­ual em­ploy­ees. But in­stead of telling them what to do or mon­i­tor­ing their per­for­mance, sim­ply have a chat – it’s im­por­tant ev­ery­one knows the boss.

Above all else, lead­ers should en­deav­our to help ev­ery team mem­ber to be­come the best that they can pos­si­bly be, which in­cludes help­ing them to cope with dif­fi­cul­ties be­yond the world of work, such as stress, be­reave­ment, debt and fam­ily prob­lems. Be­ing a men­tor sel­dom costs much money, but it can take a lot of time. You need to know col­leagues well and treat them as in­di­vid­u­als. Ex­trav­a­gant events may make a dif­fer­ence, but the best gift that you can give your col­leagues is to en­sure that they en­joy com­ing to work.

Be­ing in a work­place that feels like home pro­vides the at­tach­ment and trust that’s good for well-be­ing and makes us feel hu­man.

With the fes­tive season com­ing up, my di­ary is filled with end-of-the-year net­work­ing events and drinks. I ac­tu­ally find them quite use­ful and not as dull or fright­en­ing as some, but I’d like to be in and out quicker so that I can spend more time with the fam­ily. What ad­vice would you give to some­one who wants to net­work more ef­fi­ciently?

QAFirst, don’t ac­cept ev­ery in­vi­ta­tion; only go to events that you can look for­ward to. Sec­ond, set a dead­line; an hour is usu­ally enough and af­ter 90 min­utes, you will have spo­ken to ev­ery­one of any in­ter­est.

Ar­rive early, be­fore it gets too crowded, and walk around the room to see if there’s any­one whom you par­tic­u­larly want to meet. Th­ese func­tions are an in­for­mal form of speed dat­ing – there’s no need for any con­ver­sa­tion to last longer than five min­utes.

If you meet some­one re­ally in­ter­est­ing, put a meet­ing in your di­aries. You could say: “It’s great to meet you and we ought to have a proper chat, so let’s fix a date to meet in Jan­uary.”

The tricky bit is find­ing a po­lite way to es­cape from some­one who’s dull and bor­ing. A few help­ful com­ments to pull the para­chute cord in­clude: “Gosh, I didn’t re­alise that it was so late”; “Please ex­cuse me, as there’s some­one whom I need to catch be­fore I go”; and “Sorry, but I must leave you, as I have to make a phone call at 7pm.”

I hope th­ese hints help you to have some happy and pro­duc­tive hours of net­work­ing, but I’m will­ing to bet that when you clear out your pock­ets the fol­low­ing morn­ing, most of the busi­ness cards will go straight into the waste pa­per bas­ket.

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