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under pressure, this will inevitably have a detrimental impact on their mental health and could lead to more serious health problems in the future, such as depression. Flexible working is still relatively unusual in the legal sector, but increasingly firms are starting to appreciate the benefits. Not only can it create a happier and more productive team, but it can also mean people are more willing (and less resentful) when extra hours and late nights are required. Tey often cite feeling reassured that this extra effort is more likely to be noticed and appreciated, and also that they are free to make up for lost personal time when the immediate need for extra hours has passed. A flexitime scheme allows

employees to have a much-needed break from the pressure and to also prioritise time with family. No matter how much people love their jobs, they have a life outside of it and it’s important to recognise this.

Simply saying “thank you”

Often, it’s as simple as telling staff “thank you” and making them feel appreciated and needed. Again, this can be a powerful way of alleviating stress and letting staff know that it's a team effort. But employee benefits can also

go a long way towards making staff feel valued. When it comes to determining what benefits to offer, it’s about knowing what is actually important to the workforce. Not everyone is motivated

by the same incentives, therefore benefit schemes should include a whole range of bonuses to ensure there is something to suit everyone – from monetary rewards to days out. When employees feel valued and their hard work is recognised, they will feel more content, happier and engaged with their roles. We’ve experimented with a range

of rewards before settling on a balance that works for our workforce, ranging from monthly internal awards, subsi- dised gym and yoga class membership, additional training programmes, vouchers and monetary rewards, and beauty and therapeutic treatments. Staff appreciate the effort that has been made to reward them

as individuals for their care and attention in a job well done.

Encouraging healthier lifestyles

One by-product of a busy job can be that the focus on personal health management is diminished. By making it easier for staff to look after them- selves physically, it can have a positive impact long-term on their stress levels, and mental health and wellbeing. Tere are a number of ways to do

this. For example, introducing schemes to improve staff health can be relatively minor and cost-effective, but extremely

Since introducing our health

and wellbeing scheme we have not only tracked a decrease in sickness and absences, but overall business productivity and performance has improved. Another key benefit to our scheme was raising staff retention to almost 90%, far higher than the national average and saving the firm a predicted £70,000 in recruitment costs. It’s also easy to underestimate

the impact this can have on an organisation’s reputation. Your external stakeholders (clients, suppliers, regulators, peers) will judge you on how well you treat your staff. Tink about your own experiences

Benefit schemes should include a range of bonuses to suit everyone – from monetary rewards to days out

rewarding, such as complimentary flu jabs or free healthy snacks. Encour- aging staff to be more active in their free time can also pay dividends when it comes to overall wellbeing, so it is worth investigating subsidised corpo- rate gym or yoga class memberships. One initiative we found particularly

effective at Fletchers was providing all staff with a pedometer which appealed to their competitive spirits, encouraged them to be more active in the day and helped reduce inter-office emails. Similar benefit schemes are also being implemented across other sectors, such as food manufacturing. For example, Mars Chocolate UK4 has a dedicated employee strategy that promotes good mental health and wellbeing by giving staff access to exercise classes, onsite gyms and resilience workshops. Tis scheme has helped to create good working relation- ships, and a fit and healthy workforce.

How does wellbeing impact on business?

While a strong wellbeing strategy may seem like a lot of planning and extra work, the rewards can largely outweigh the initial investment, so it is worth examining the results of such schemes to understand the huge improvements it can have on a business.

of other companies or retailers. You can tell instinctively which organisations have staff that seem well cared for and those which seem unhappy and resentful. Tese feelings have a direct effect on the quality of service and it’s not hard to see the likely impact that might have on future custom or recommendations. Despite all this evidence, however,

it is a sad fact that far too many work- places still do not take enough care of the mental health and wellbeing of their employees. However, as awareness of such issues spread and good practice increases, poorly performing employers will find it harder and harder to recruit and retain the best staff. Our increasingly digital, networked

world will also increase this trend, with potential recruits able to find out within a few clicks what past and current employees think of their workplace. Te reputation of employers has never been so visible and valuable. To ensure that your business does not start to lose top talent to more forward-thinking competitors, now is the time to make the investment and get ahead of the curve to start reaping the rewards of improved employee wellbeing.

Tim Scott is director of people at Fletchers Solicitors. For more information, visit www.

References 1 2 3 4 ibid

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