What makes your employees tick?

Small business insight

1 January 2018

Businesses need good people. From start-ups through to established enterprises, it’s essential to have the right people with you to help drive your company forward.

Retaining and replacing talent can be challenging. Indeed, in 2016 survey UK small business bosses revealed that in terms of recruitment, training time and lost productivity, it costs almost £26,000 to replace an employee who’s left the business.1

The loss of a valued employee is a disruption for any business. But for micro-enterprises that might not have the resource to absorb the direct and indirect costs – or the security of contingency planning often enjoyed by larger organisations – it stresses the importance of keeping hold of good people.

Remuneration, of course, plays a vital role when it comes to people remaining committed to a business. As a part of this, employee benefits can play big part in engagement since, at the most basic level, they provide a tangible illustration of value an employer places on its people. At the same time, however, appreciating the additional elements that make people tick can be the difference between keeping hold of your people and losing them.

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Ensuring you have a cohesive and engaged team isn’t always easy, especially if the nature of work means that some employees spend long periods working alone. While autonomous working can give people greater freedom and control over their daily activities, drawbacks can include isolation and the pressure of being ‘always on’. Therefore, it’s important not to let these employees drift and detach. Seize opportunities to ensure they feel part of your business.


We don’t want to feel undermined or unconfident at work. We all appreciate acknowledgement and recognition, so don’t forget that positive words help to raise spirits and deepen employees’ feelings of satisfaction and worth in your business.

But there’s much more to managing wellbeing at work than simply knowing how to make your people happy. Think of wellbeing as a state affected by a myriad of physical, psychological and social drivers. This might, for example, involve an employee being affected by their financial situation and/or relationship issues, which can lead to stress, anxiety or even depression.


In a workplace context, the nature of work itself, job satisfaction and/or career progression can all play a role in attaining a real sense of fulfilment. But it’s near impossible for bosses to guarantee that every – or, indeed, any – employee will experience this. Indeed, achieving such a state arguably rests more on an individual’s shoulders than it does on their employer’s. But that said, creating a positive, supportive environment where your people can grow and develop will go a long way to enabling them to flourish and, in turn, help to safeguard your enterprise from the costly risk of losing them.

Sources and references

1Online survey of 507 SME senior decision makers, September 2016 by market research agency Atomik for AXA PPP healthcare.

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