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Mind your step on the office return


"City of London" by Daniel Gorecki


It may be a few months yet until a return to the office is fully on the cards. But with employees becoming used to greater freedom and flexibility, it’s worth spending some time assessing how attitudes have changed and why that might matter to your future success as a business.


Which companies said this in their annual report? Answers on a postcard, no prizes.


  • Prioritizing employee well-being is core to our organization’s success.

  • We are committed to being a company that people love to work for.

  • Our people are our most valuable asset.

  • Our world-class workforce is our most important competitive advantage.

  • A high-performing workforce underpins our success.

  • Our employees are important to the Board. They are the ones that shape the culture of the business.

Few would argue that a happy and healthy workforce makes for a solid base from which to grow a business. For years, company chiefs have been quick to espouse how important their staff are to their business success. Just look through most annual reports and you will find phrases like those listed above.


How to measure employee wellbeing?


It is one thing for an organisation to prove its impact on the environment or to comply with broad levels of governance in relation to regulations and shareholder pressure. It is another to showcase empirically that the health and wellbeing of employees is being adequately addressed.


But there are those attempting to do exactly that. Indeed, funds exist that focus on how companies treat their employees. In 2015 French-based Sycomore Asset Management launched a fund that focuses on human capital. At the time of its launch, the manager of the Sycomore Happy at Work Fund said they identified three areas that “promote professional fulfilment, that are the ‘hallmarks of sustainable performance’”. These are – Quality of work life; motivation; and empowerment. As their announcement at the time said: “They improve an employee’s engagement and help drive productivity. A contented employee is more efficient and creative and feels more involved.”


The point is that it is not purely philanthropic. Done right, focusing on the contentment of staff presents an opportunity for commercial success.


Best for them, best for you


Happy and healthy employees are less likely to be absent. They are likely to be more productive. It is not unreasonable to assume there will be less staff turnover.


There are six simple but revealing questions that guide Sycomore’s Happy at Work Fund discussions:

  1. Are you happy to come to work?

  2. Is your commitment rewarded when the company performs well?

  3. Are you asked to give your opinion and are your views taken into account?

  4. What are the values of your company?

  5. Do you have easy access to training?

  6. Would you recommend your employer to your friends and family?

The enforced period of working from home during lockdowns has introduced many to the idea of greater flexibility in their jobs. Having seen productivity remain high, some business leaders question whether they will ever return to a full office-based environment, while others argue this last year will soon be seen as anomaly.


Where will your stake land?


What is certain is businesses will have to listen to their employees to find the optimal solution, especially as younger employees, and those joining the workforce imminently bring with them new expectations and reveal what it is that incentivises them to get up each day and be productive. Moreover, the companies that do wholeheartedly embrace employee wellbeing will likely attract and keep the best talent.


If you want to hear more about how we keep our colleagues motivated, and in turn doing the best job for our clients, get in touch, preferably by email rather than postcard. Details in the contact section on the website.


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