Employees are one of the most important business stakeholders. Keeping them happy in their working environment is therefore crucial for the success of CSR strategy in any company. It is the HR department that plays the key role in implementing the CSR strategy across the whole business.
The recent trend of shortages of skilled workers in the job market in the Czech Republic makes it a norm that employee satisfaction is supported by a number of employee benefits. There are meal vouchers, business mobile phones, flexible working hours, a week extra of holiday entitlement or contributions towards all types of leisure activities. Supporting good working environment has become one of the most commonly applied pillars of sustainability. But is it enough to offer employees a few benefits?
Well established system of employee care
Every business that aims to be successful in the long term appreciates the importance of looking after the wellbeing of their employees. An HR Representative knows the best that not every employee benefit is good for everyone. In the first place, the system of employee benefits should reflect the wishes of employees themselves. If employee benefits are set up correctly, the company will monitor their use and to what extent the employees are happy with them.
Employee motivation and performance is mostly affected by their working environment. It has become a common benefit that employers allow their employees to work from home from time to time (so called home office). The businesses can save on office supplies or on energy bills and employees can sometimes enjoy even better working conditions for their non-disturbed work and have the opportunity to lower their commuting costs (including lowering their carbon footprint). The technology also allows for instant connection with their clients as well as their colleagues or managers. If the home office is possible and welcome by employees, the newly gained flexibility can also result in a better work-life balance for most of them.
The alternative of home office can be an investment into improvements of working space that will motivate the employees better and will make them feel more comfortable. There are plenty of businesses, such as Czech Avast, investing in modern offices that combine work and spaces for breaks or active relaxation.
End the stress
Companies should not forget to look after the health of their employees. Rapid technology development allows them to be connected all the time but it is apparent their productivity does not increase proportionally with the number of hours they devote to work, quite the opposite. Companies should support their employees in using up their holiday entitlement and their free time to relax and to boost their energy.
Stress can be caused by long working hours, family conflicts or economic uncertainty. Some studies claim that high levels of stress and lack of control over our working environment and work pace can result in similar damage to our health such as second hand smoking, if we compare the effects with our own health perception, state of mental health, diagnosed diseases or number of deaths. It is therefore in the best interest of businesses and their corporate responsibility strategies to notice these risks and to actively prevent them.
HR departments form the most effective tool for preventing stressful working environments. Its representatives should actively seek opportunities to improve working environment and to lead active dialog with employees in order to identify their needs.
Engage employees and improve your results
Employees can also provide fantastic evaluation of your corporate responsibility strategy. Their feedback will be objective and they will also have plenty of new ideas and suggestions how to change malfunctioning practices. Their participation in forming your corporate responsibility strategy will make them feel engaged, improve their alignment with the company and increase their support of responsible activities in their daily work. It will result in lower employee fluctuation, lower costs associated with their recruitment and training but also in benefits stemming from well-established corporate responsibility strategy based on inputs from all stakeholders.
One of the main HR goals is usually to attract talent. The sustainable business added value is the support for talent stimulated by working environment that supports physical, mental as well as emotional performance and making it one of the business strategic priorities.
An effective tool for stimulating employee motivation and for creating good working environment is the focus on their regular training and development. Employees appreciate the opportunity to gain new skills, increase their confidence and the level of their independent decision-making and to improve the control of their workload.
Work-life balance – Patagonia example
A great example of how a company can prevent the stress of their employees and how it can support their growth at the same time, is Patagonia. As one of the first companies in the United States it built a nursery within their headquarters for the children of their employees. It supports working mothers, who are better able to focus on their work without having to think about their children and about how they are coping in their nursery. Flexible working environment allows them to visit the nursery any time and to spend for example a lunch break with them. Similar systems are also being set up in the Czech Republic mostly by multinationals with higher numbers of employees. Companies with fewer employees, where the share of working mums is lower, tend to allow flexible working hours or flexible contracts.