Zoe Hunter: Why businesses need to make workplaces great for employees

Do you love your job?

If the answer is yes: why is that?

What makes you bounce out of bed every morning; keen to go to work?

Many got a taste of freedom and flexibility during the Covid-19 lockdown and want a more balanced work-life.

And that means more than a company providing fruit in a bowl in the staffroom.

As reported in our weekly Saturday publication Money, Bay of Plenty workplaces are stepping it up with more wellbeing initiatives for staff.

A snapshot of what businesses are offering staff to help increase mental health and wellbeing in the workplace included free counselling, free financial and nutrition seminars, subsidised gym memberships, pilates, working from home, walking groups and sporting activities.

Councils and businesses told NZME it was crucial staff felt happy and supported after the economic gut-punch of the Covid-19 lockdown.

It follows Mental Health Foundation research showing about a million people had low mental wellbeing from December to February.

The Tauranga City Council spent more than $63,000 from July 2020 to the end of June 2021 on an independent service provider with a network of professionals offering a range of wellbeing and counselling services.

That is money well spent if you ask me.

A happy employee is more likely to be more productive at work, which is good for the employer. A happy employee is also more likely to enjoy life both in and outside of work. It’s a win-win.

People spend a lot of their life at work so our workplaces need to be an environment we want to return to every workday.

A safe and healthy workplace creates a positive environment and a positive environment equals a more enjoyable life outside of work.

An example of a company that has been doing this for years is Mainfreight, which has its global headquarters right here in the Bay of Plenty.

It’s a company that proves good business ethics and a happy and engaged workforce pays off.

Mainfreight recorded the highest share price on the NZX, about $75, following a standout performance in 2020 and further gains this year.

In our June edition of Money, Craigs Investment Partners research analysts Roy Davidson said there was now a sustainability mandate for companies.

That meant everything including emissions, waste, biodiversity, supply chain responsibility, human rights, health and safety, having a happy and engaged workforce, business ethics.

During a tour of the global logistics company’s headquarters in September last year, the words ‘special people, special company’ can be seen printed on its exterior.

The three pillars of Mainfreight are: culture, family and philosophy, which have underpinned the company’s values and ethics from its earliest days.

Staff are referred to as team members, including the boss. You’ll never see a dirty Mainfreight truck on the road.

Those are the types of things that make a good company great.

In April, Bay of Plenty recruiters said good workplace culture was “more than just fruit in the staffroom”.

They are right.

It’s the small things that can make a gigantic difference.

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