Builders’ merchants and other retailers tend to operate in fields with low margins. With staff costs continuing to rise with the introduction of the national living wage, it’s becoming even more challenging to maintain your market position – or increase your market share.

Additionally, local, independent builders’ merchants may not have the safety net to fall back on that big businesses enjoy.

Therefore, builders’ merchants often place price competition as a secondary concern, and instead seek to differentiate their business by offering superior customer service. To achieve this, you not only need to hire knowledgeable and friendly staff, you need to keep them, too. Improving employee wellbeing is key to reducing staff turnover.

What is employee wellbeing?

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), define employee wellbeing as: “creating an environment to promote a state of contentment which allows an employee to flourish and achieve their full potential for the benefit of themselves and their organisation.”

Wellbeing isn’t just about making staff happy, but making them more productive – a goal that every business should aspire to.

How can employee wellbeing be improved in an affordable way?

Pay rises and bonuses are actually some of the least effective ways of boosting wellbeing, particularly in the long term. Here are some easy ways to keep your staff content and productive that don’t cost a fortune:

Flexibility. Offer flexible working hours if you can, even if it’s letting staff shift their start and finish time by half an hour. Alternatively, give employees more freedom when it comes to completing tasks and structuring their day. We all work best in different ways.
Variety. Design jobs so that staff have a variety of tasks to complete throughout the day and week. This helps prevent boredom and keeps staff engaged.
Communication and feedback. Staff want to be treated like people, and not robots. Communicate openly with junior staff, ask what they like about the job and if they are any ways they think processes could be improved. Value employee opinions and listen to their concerns.
Significance. If an employee can easily see the positive impact their role has on the company, they’ll be more satisfied with their work. Tell staff about impressive sales months and pass on positive comments from clients.
Training. Ensure that your training program for new starters is thorough – staff will find it frustrating if they constantly have to ask for help or can’t complete key tasks. Offering extra training further down the line will also make employees feel appreciated.
A pleasant working environment. Consider revamping the point of sale and staff areas of your premises to create more space and natural light. Eliminate hazards and replace any worn out furniture or furnishings.
Positive working relationships. Staff will dread coming to work if they don’t get along with their co-workers or struggle to deal with problem customers. Try to find the root of any problems and resolve them – either by talking to employees or offering more customer service training.

If you’ve been having problems with high levels of staff turnover or absenteeism, employee wellbeing is a wise area to investigate. Happy employees are less likely to suffer from work-related mental health problems such as stress, and they’ll work harder for your business, too.

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