3 December 2013

While it seems to be the season for writing lists – shopping lists, guest lists, lists to Father Christmas – I am with the other North West businesses this week as they prioritise the list of changes they’d like to see from Thursday’s autumn statement.

I noticed a survey recently which suggested the number one priority for medium-sized British businesses is a cut in National Insurance and other employment costs. Whilst I agree that decreasing these costs would encourage companies to create new jobs, I don’t think that it is tackling the bigger picture.

Boosting jobs is obviously important but it’s not just about job creation, it’s about job satisfaction. Employee retention is a challenge for a lot of businesses and you can’t keep great people if they’re uninspired. I’d like to see tax breaks for employee engagement initiatives – events, hospitality, team-building. The costs involved in looking after and investing in employees are deterring companies from nurturing and rewarding their most important asset – their people.

You might argue that this isn’t an essential and times of austerity call for tough measures, but what about the burden placed on the NHS because people are stressed or have developed mental health problems working for a company that doesn’t motivate them, protect them or make them feel valued?

If we’re to create a truly great Britain, we need to start thinking bigger and focusing on innovation and productivity; two things that are greatly accelerated by happy, well looked-after employees. Disengaged employees can cost companies thousands if not millions of pounds; yet if you give a little, you get a lot back in return.

Is it fair that contributing to the fulfilment and happiness of your team is such an expensive activity?

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