14 Feb 2023

How to keep employees happy in these turbulent times

The Collins Dictionary word of the year for 2022 was ‘permacrisis’ defined as “an extended period of instability and insecurity”. Collins said it chose the word as it “sums up quite succinctly how truly awful 2022 has been for so many people”[i].

2023 looks set to be continuing along the same trajectory. From the cost of living crisis to ongoing strike action, the war Ukraine and fears of a global recession we are living in turbulent times.  All this doom and gloom is having a negative impact on mental health.

Research last year by Swansea University[ii] found that the cost of living crisis is having significant impact on people’s mental and emotional wellbeing, highlighting that people felt a “lack of control” over their lives and are worried about an “uncertain” or “bleak future”.

There is however a lot that employers can do to boost people’s mood and we’ve put forward some suggestions.  These don’t necessarily need to cost the earth but what employers will get back in return is happy more motivated and productive staff.

Upskill your staff – most employees want to keep learning and progressing in their jobs. Offering training and development opportunities can help retain staff as well as ensure the workforce is highly skilled. Employers can keep track of training easily using Activ Training software which stores training and certificates all in one place.

Offer employee perks – from wellbeing massages and mindfulness sessions to free food/fruit in the office, discounts for groceries and high street stores to gym membership, there are a whole raft of perks that could put on a smile on people’s faces this year. Ask staff what perks would appeal to them to ensure its something they will value.

Encourage breaks and time away from the desk – send email reminders to all staff about the benefits of taking regular breaks from their computer. This is especially important for people working at home who can often feel guilty about taking breaks or even having a lunch hour.

Remind employees to take holidays – it’s the start of a new year and an ideal time to remind people to get annual leave booked in and not to leave it all until the end of the year. Taking time off every few months can help people recharge their batteries and come back refreshed. Employees can easily see how much leave they have and make requests using Activ Absence.

Ensure employees are paid on time – with the cost of living impacting people’s pockets making sure employees are paid on time; including any expenses can really help them manage their cash-flow. It can have a negative impact on people’s mental health if they are paid late or incorrectly[iii]. Using digital timesheets such as Activ Timesheets can help ensure this process goes smoothly and that payroll receives timesheets on time.

Smile and say thank you – smiling elicits a happiness feedback loop in people’s brains and can be one of the most effective tools for enhancing mood[iv]. Smiling is also contagious so it’s hard not to smile back at someone. Encouraging managers to smile and thank their team members on a regular basis can be a real organisational mood booster and is a quick win for everyone!

2023 could be a difficult year for everyone, but a few simple measures could help keep staff happy and show that they are a valued employee.

[i] https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2022/nov/01/sums-up-2022-permacrisis-chosen-as-collins-word-of-the-year

[ii] https://www.swansea.ac.uk/press-office/news-events/news/2022/10/cost-of-living-crisis-having-significant-impact-on-mental-health-study-shows.php

[iii] https://www.zellis.com/resources/press-and-media/financial-wellbeing-2022/

[iv] https://www.freshbusinessthinking.com/news-and-insights/the-science-behind-our-smile-why-happiness-is-so-vital-at-work/50219.article