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The key to success: put employees first

With all eyes on the UK and how we will fare post-Brexit, it’s never been more important for businesses to get it right. And that means understanding what employees want.

A workforce is, without a shadow of doubt, a business’ biggest and best asset. Without the right employees, it can be an uphill struggle to grow and thrive, especially in times of uncertainty. But while waving a decent pay cheque may once have been enough to attract people to the job, employee demands and needs have evolved.

If we are to attract and retain the best talent, we need to understand exactly what it is employees are looking for in an employer and what excites them about coming into work.

According to Mercer’s 2018 Global Talent Trends report, thriving employees – those deemed to be professionally and personally fulfilled – were three times more likely to work for a company with a strong sense of purpose. In order to motivate and engage their employees, businesses need to ensure that all of their staff feel like they are a valuable part of the team and actively contributing to the overall performance and success of the business.

Not surprisingly, flexibility also ranked particularly high amongst staff needs. As many as 71% of thriving employees said their company offered flexible working, compared to 32% of non-thriving workers. Overall, more than half (51%) of employees said they wished their company offered more flexible working options.

Flexibility can be particularly valuable for working parents, with a separate study by FlexJobs revealing that a huge 83% of working mums cited the option to work flexibly as the most important factor when considering a new job, while work life balance came second.

For a business to flourish and be seen by both current and potential employees as a great place to work, managers need to recognise the different needs of their workforce and see how they stack up. After all, recruiting people can be a time-consuming and expensive business, but losing staff can be much more costly – not just in turnover but in reputation and general staff morale.

To get started, businesses should consider their brand and how they’re perceived both internally and externally. It’s vital to know what people are saying about your company outside of your own four walls, but it’s equally important to understand what current stuff think about their working environment.  

Employers should be proactive and start conversations about what works for their staff and what they would change if they could. Asking for feedback not only gives companies invaluable insight, but it can make employees feel their opinion matters and that their experience is valued and respected.

As a new generation enters the workplace, we also need to be mindful that their needs may differ from other generations. Interestingly, when millennials were asked the most important values a business should follow if it wants to have long-term success, the leading response was that it should put employees first and build a solid foundation of trust and integrity.*

*The 2016 Deloitte Millennial survey – winning over the next generation of leaders 

Against this changing landscape, a commitment to staff wellbeing has never been more important, with employees increasingly looking to work for an employer that cares about its staff. It’s not enough just to pay lip service; the cost of failing to put employees’ wellbeing first could work out greater than the cost of implementing a wellness programme.

Showing staff you care about their mental and physical health will not just make them feel more valued, but can also be a real differentiator when it comes to the recruitment process. And with competitors vying for the same talent pool, businesses should put as much emphasis on how they’re seen by prospective candidates as they do on what they think of the applicant.

This means being clear about the job role and what it entails, teaming up with the right recruitment partners and projecting the right image and message. An interview gives businesses the perfect platform to highlight their strengths and desirability – something particularly important in today’s digital age where social media can make or break a brand.

A survey by CareerArc revealed that nearly 60% of job seekers have had a bad candidate experience and of those, 72% report having shared that experience online or on an employer review site. Businesses therefore need to make sure their social media is up to date, reflective of what they stand for, and must be responsive to any comments, be those good or bad.

Companies should be seen as accessible, approachable and willing to engage and improve.  

Prioritising the people-side of your business will not only result in happier, more motivated employees, but will also boost performance, reputation and bottom line – the perfect tonic for 2019.

About: Aliya Vigor-Robertson

Aliya started her HR career in 1996 and co-founded JourneyHR in 2010. Aliya works with Founders and business leaders in the creative industry and advises them on creating sustainable and creative cultures where their people can thrive and their businesses get great results.

Aliya is also a DBA Expert. Find out more about the DBA’s experts register and how our specialists could make a positive difference to your business here.

Employee Engagement Survey for DBA Members


Employee engagement goes beyond simple job satisfaction. It combines commitment to the organisation and its values with a willingness to go the extra mile for colleagues.

There is evidence to suggest that engaged employees are both more productive and more fulfilled than their less engaged counterparts. Engagement is therefore a key ingredient for organisational success and employee wellbeing.  

Show your employees their voices are valued and heard by taking part in our Employee Engagement Survey, open 6-20 September 2019. The survey will quickly and effectively provide your organisation with employee insights, and your results will be put in context using benchmark scores based on DBA members. The detailed report of findings containing commentary, charts and analysis by subgroup (such as company type, employee age group and so on) will show how engaged your employees are, as well as their views on key topics such as leadership, communications, retention and line management. 

Don’t miss out on this robust and cost-effective approach to employee engagement insights and benchmarking. If you have any questions please contact | Eleanor Singh, Project Manager, DBA.

Image credits:

Debby Hudson, Unsplash
Josh Calabrese, Unsplash
Aliya Vigor-Robertson


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