How to make your business a brilliant place to work

Want to get the most out of loyal and motivated employees? Learn the four secrets to making your business a brilliant place to work.

Every year, The Sunday Times publishes a list of the best small companies to work for in the UK – businesses that manage to make their workplaces inspiring, fun and motivating. As a result they don’t just attract and retain the best people, but they continually get the best out of them too.

To help you take a leaf out of their book, Harkirat Garcha, Business Development at Motivate Personal Training explores just what it is that these companies do so well, and discovers four lessons we can learn from them.

Four lessons we can learn from the top small businesses

So what DO the UK’s top businesses do so differently from the rest of us? Here are four things they get right.

1) They invest in their employees’ wellbeing

While few companies actually invest in their workforce in a meaningful way, the UK’s top businesses all choose creative ways to go over and above to show their employees that they really care about their health and wellbeing.

And there’s good reason to follow in their footsteps – a strong and healthy workforce not only boosts your team’s productivity, but it will reduce their absenteeism and leave them feeling more confident. In turn, they will be able to contribute more positively at work.

London-based media agency The 7 Stars (number three on The Sunday Times’ list) offers weekly yoga and pilates classes, monthly massages and free gym membership to its employees. Digital firm Periscopix (number 10) organises weekly football sessions and offers free physiotherapy sessions, and other companies subsidise annual ski, surfing and hiking trips.

2) They invest in their employees’ development and learning

We all leave university or school thinking that we are done with education. However, reality often hits in the first week of your first big job, when you realise you have a lot to learn, and quickly!

The UK’s top companies recognise the need to continually nurture new talent. As a result they offer continual development programmes and create environment in which their employees are constantly challenged.

In fact, the top small UK companies have spends exceeding six figures on personal development initiative. Opus Recruitment (number two on the list) invested £100k on its 62 employees personal development last year. Premier Recruitment (number 15) had one of the highest personal development spends (nearing £300k) for its employees, who have an average age of 26.

3) They give their employees real responsibility early in their career

Many of us know what it feels like to start at the bottom of the career ladder. Skills developed in this position include knowing how everyone on your team takes their coffee and understanding the photocopying machine inside and out!

But while we are all prepared to spend a few months learning the ropes and creating long-term allies in the office, we all want the knowledge that hard work will be swiftly recognised and rewarded. And this should come in the form of added responsibility so that your work life never becomes stagnant.

Sadly, many of us end up coasting at work and have to carry out the same tedious tasks for many years. This inevitably results in employees searching for more exciting opportunities elsewhere.

Healthcare software firm TTP (number one on The Sunday Times’ list) expects its graduates to start conducting meetings on their own as soon as they indicate that they are ready. This allows them to shape your career at the pace they want. They also send their employees to cover their international regions in their first month on the job. Being thrown in at the deep end can be incredibly exciting and the best way to inspire your workforce!

4) They create a fun environment

Though this point is last on our list we actually think that this is the most important one!

Most of us spend more time at work than we do at home. According to Psychology Today, the average person spends 90,000 hours at work. If you don’t enjoy your work environment, this time spent working, can very quickly begin to feel like a prison sentence.

A fun environment makes you forget you are at work, and doesn’t fill you with dread on a Sunday night. We came across many things that the top small companies do to make the office a place that employees enjoy. Our favourite ideas included free smoothies everyday and a fully stocked breakfast bar, which encourages employees to get into work early and on time.

Chapman Black, a recruitment firm, rented a villa in Ibiza last summer and sent ten top performing groups of employees out on an all-expenses paid trip. Gemini Search topped the list in terms of its fun factor, with annual rooftop parties, ‘big nights in’, themed Christmas parties and a quarterly budget for each team to spend on anything of their choosing – from day trips to Paris to white water rafting!

How to make YOUR business a brilliant place to work

What lessons can you take from the UK’s top small businesses? You don’t need a multi million pound budget to make your office a more inspiring place to work. Here are some quick and cheap ideas:

  • Provide free fruit or cakes on a Friday.
  • Organise weekly lunchtime fitness sessions in your local park.
  • Bring in experts once a month for lunchtime group training.
  • Give junior employees the chance to take more responsibility.
  • Offer massages or spa treatments as performance incentives.

Motivate Personal Training offer corporate fitness solutions to help you keep your teams healthy and motivated.