Chamber launches toolkit to help businesses create fair culture

Author - Niamh Corcoran

Date published:

A practical business toolkit on how to create a fair company that rewards employees while ensuring it makes sound financial sense has been launched today (Monday, 22 November 2021).

North East England Chamber of Commerce has developed the Good Work toolkit with support from its members Hodgson Sayers, Northumbrian Water, AES Digital Solutions and Thirteen Housing Group.

Niamh Corcoran, Chamber policy adviser said: “We are promoting ‘Good Work’ to encourage all regional employers to ensure they invest in their workforce, reward people fairly, commit to lifelong training and support the wellbeing of employees.

“At it’s core, the Chamber is about ensuring that the North East economy thrives. If we create a network of good businesses, we will build a stronger, future-proofed economy, underpinning a better, fairer and greener society.”

Six years ago Chamber Partner member Hodgson Sayers was the first company in the construction sector in the North East, and only the second in the UK, to become accredited by the Living Wage Foundation. The motivation for this was to be the best employer it could be and also for business benefits, such as well-paid staff being motivated and more productive. As well as this staff retention also significantly reduces training and recruitment advertising costs and long-serving employees create strong teams.

John Sayers, managing director said: “The economic reasons were important factors, but uppermost in our minds was the fact that embracing the Living Wage was simply the right thing to do. It chimed perfectly with our core values that guide all our transactions – honesty, decency and integrity. We don’t want people coming to work and worrying about money and whether they have enough to get them through the week. The wellbeing of our staff is as important to us as it is to them. We have a responsibility – a duty of care.”

Practical advice in the Good Work toolkit also came from Chamber Partner member Northumbrian Water which rose to the challenge of Covid to establish new working arrangements and introduced a range of new ways to support employees.

The company recognised that for many colleagues working remotely felt less like ‘working from home’ and more like ‘living at work’, so it reinforced the importance of self-care and disconnecting from work. Many employees were parents, so resources and activities were developed including the Parent & Family Zone and Parents’ Network for parents to offer peer to peer support to each other.

An internal platform for this initiative ‘Living Well’ had registered 96% of the Northumbrian Water workforce using the site with both office and field colleagues regularly accessing resources.

Advice in the Good Work toolkit from Thirteen Housing Group included ensuring employees are encouraged to upskill and enjoy their work every day. Joanne Lawther, director of people said: “We know our business could look very different in the future. Through our approach to talent and succession, we can understand how the skills we need might change and how this could affect roles across the business.

“We want our ambition, energy and passion to make a difference and to be the reason why colleagues want to work for Thirteen. We want our colleagues to want to help others thrive just as much as Thirteen does.”

Chamber President Lesley Moody’s business AES Digital Solutions has long-championed flexible working and being a Good Work ambassador. In the toolkit she recommends being supportive of people’s personal circumstances and believes the economic benefits are tenfold from employees as a result.

“In this new normal work environment, we should grasp the opportunity to use the learning and experiences of the last 18 months to help our staff achieve a better work-life balance.”

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