Whether a company offers go-karting or equal pay, there are any number of ways employers can make the workplace more inviting.
“It’s not always expensive, sometimes it’s the most simple things, like just giving them a little bit of flexibility [with time],” says Carl Jafrabad, director of compensation, benefits and pension at Nestlé Canada Inc., who spoke at an event last week recognizing employer excellence.
The flexibility to take a half-hour here or there to take care of personal matters is one of the ways that Nestlé Canada chooses to show its employees that it cares about their well-being, but other companies have their own ways.
For instance, at Shopify’s headquarters in Ottawa, employees can go-kart at the soundproof, indoor track. Meanwhile, roof-top mini-putt and vintage arcade games can amuse staff at Google Canada’s head office in downtown Toronto.
Here other business leaders share six things that companies can do to show employees that they care about their well-being.
EQUALITY IN PAY
When the founders of Salesforce.com Inc. first put their company on the map in 1999, they were keen to emphasize the Hawaiian concept of ’ohana, meaning family. But that concept extends further than those connected by blood.
“These are the people that are your chosen family, your adopted family, your intentional family, the people basically that you’re going to lock arm in arm with and you’re going to take the hill and no one’s getting left behind,” says Jody Kohner, the company’s senior vice-president of the employee marketing and engagement team.
One of the ways that Salesforce does that is by providing equality to employees, including equality in pay. The company has conducted two pay audits, and has spent almost US$6-million to address any unexplained differences between women and men in pay. In the United States, the company also addresses any race-related differences in pay.
TREAT EMPLOYEES LIKE HUMAN BEINGS
When companies concentrate only on the bottom line, office life can turn into a constant grind.
Bill Howatt, chief research and development officer for work-force productivity at human resources company Morneau Shepell Ltd., says successful companies show they care by realizing that employees aren’t just endless resources.
Examples of this would be flexible scheduling, wellness benefits and more time building relationships and trust between employees and managers.
“Focus on the whole story, not just thinking about employees [as people who] punch a clock but thinking about employees as an investment that you invest in that by spending time helping them,” he says.
BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER
Mary Barroll, president of career resource website TalentEgg.ca, says it is important for a company to schedule time together for employees.
Every Friday afternoon during the winter, TalentEgg holds a social get-together, which is a time for staff to enjoy drinks and snacks, and the occasional movie, while catching up on the week or plans for the weekend. In the summer, between the May long weekend and Labour Day, the company gives staff paid Friday afternoons off.
“You hear about other examples,” she adds. “Bringing in puppies from the Humane Society to cheer everybody up, bringing your kid to work day. All of those things that recognize that there’s something beyond the whole corporate experience that goes beyond the interests of the actual business and organization and looks to the experience of bringing people together.”
SUPPORT EMPLOYEE CAUSES
Like many companies, Salesforce encourages its employees to give back to their communities, giving each employee worldwide 56 hours a year to donate. In addition, the company will match any charitable donation up to $5,000.
As a result, Canadian Salesforce employees gave more than 34,000 hours to their communities last year, and are aiming to increase that to 45,000 this year.
“From the very first day we started this company, all employees were really encouraged to give back to their communities,” says Ms. Kohner.
While many companies offer wellness benefits, there can be a stigma about actually using them, Dr. Howatt says.
He adds that for a company to truly show it cares, it must do its best to prove to employees that using massage benefits or any such wellness perks will have no impact on how they are judged in the workplace.
“Employees will really value when a culture” is created where is it perceived to be safe to use wellness benefits, he says.
When it comes to showing appreciation for employees simply doing their jobs or going above and beyond, it’s not always about financial gain.
Things such as social media shout-outs or a written note, or remembering and celebrating an employee’s birthday can prove to be uplifting gestures to an employee.
“In some ways the small things are the most meaningful. Even though you might have these really terrific programs, it’s really about the person’s experience as not just an employee but as a human being,” Ms. Barroll says.
She adds that scheduling regular meetings with employees that are not performance reviews but check-ins to see how they are doing, and asking if they need any help is a way of showing that an employer cares.
“A combination of more formal programs with more personal gestures of caring and kindness is the most effective way to show your appreciation for employees,” she says.
The Employee Recommended Workplace Awards, held annually in Toronto, recognizes Canada’s top employers through a series of employee ratings in a number of different categories. The Globe and Mail co-created the awards with Morneau Sheppell.