Here’s a business improvement reality: HR policies can make or break a workplace. As an employer, the time, effort and consideration you put into your HR policies can make the difference between a disengaged and unimaginative workforce and a loyal, productive and passionate one.
That’s not to say that HR policy is the only thing that matters at work. But, there is considerable evidence to show that improved employee engagement leads to greater productivity and creativity. A study in the UK found that “unequivocally…performance and profitability [are] transformed by employee engagement”. HR policies are obviously part of a larger package of an employee engagement strategy, but they’re a very good place to start.
Here are a few collections of policies that are used in companies across the globe to spur productivity and creativity—which usually brings the extra bonus of improving staff happiness and retention!
Training and development
You can try to improve your employees’ productivity all you want, but sometimes you need to use less tangible methods. Policies that support your staff’s professional growth are fundamental to productivity. Building in development opportunities such as internal and external training, mentoring schemes and personal goal-setting will keep your employees keen and focused.
But training doesn’t have to focus solely on work. For example, Walmart offer a landmark program for its staff that focuses on training around sustainability – it’s known as PSP (or Personal Sustainability Plan) and has seen huge adoption rates because it allows each ‘associate’ to get creative and develop their own plan.
On a smaller scale, many companies run ‘Lunch and Learns’. These are typically informal lunchtime sessions that focus on knowledge or skill sharing. If you want to ‘wow’ your employees, ask them to plan a series of creative sessions and let them know the policy is for the company to cover lunch expenses.
‘We’ve got you covered’
Training and developing your staff has a clear link to increasing their creativity and productivity. However, often overlooked are those policies that bring your people peace of mind, such as insurance policies.
- Health insurance is the obvious one – get cover that includes previous medical conditions and, as an extra, covers close family. As well as ensuring your staff is as healthy as possible, you’ll be showing them that you genuinely care about their long term wellbeing.
- Pet insurance is a less obvious option but, with an astonishing 39% of homes in the US listed as dog owners, offering dog insurance will keep your people free from concern about large vet bills and more able to focus on their job. Many pet insurance companies like Embrace offer options for employers looking to explore pet coverage options.
Health and wellbeing
This group of HR policies is really coming into its own over recent years. If your people are unhealthy or unhappy, they won’t have what they need to deliver at their fullest potential. Here’s a range of creative policies that tackle the problem:
- Physical health can be supported with policies such as subsidized or complimentary gym membership. Take it further like the British Library (PDF) and offer your staff free professional massages!
- Flexible working hours can help improve the mental wellbeing of your staff, as can opportunities to work from home. Getting people out the office can also aid their creativity.
- Many companies offer staff volunteering; this can range from full volunteering days as leave, to like-for-like time matching for people who volunteer in their own time. Check out these case studies of companies that are investing in their people in this way.
- A “cycle to work” scheme that helps more people get on their bikes and get exercise that will improve their mood.
- Healthy eating options in any on site catering – a well-nourished brain is able to concentrate for longer stretches of time, therefore increasing productivity. Danone went as far as to offer training on diet and nutrition (PDF) to their staff.
No matter what policy(s) you decide to implement, it is becoming even more competitive to keep employers, so up your organization’s game and make sure you retain your employees for years to come.
Adria Saracino is a marketer and blogger. When not consulting on marketing strategy for businesses, you can find her writing about style on her personal fashion blog, The Emerald Closet.