No company wants employment disputes or disciplinary procedures, and an HR expert is invaluable in resolving problems legally, quickly and efficiently – but what about using that expert advice to take all possible steps by preventing problems arising in the first place?
Bower HR, based in Luton, has recently turned the spotlight on proactive measures to employment issues, encouraging businesses to implement an Employee Value Proposition (EVP), working with the Bower HR team to take a holistic look at their company and its values and how they impact on the workforce.
While conventional HR services are the core of Bower HR – from start-ups looking to draw up the basic documentation to a retained service for companies looking for regular outsourced employment law advice and guidance – Proprietor Serena Bower is also passionate about taking a new approach that is likely to appeal to forward thinking employers who realise that implementing innovative working practices across the board, and which appeal to a diverse workforce, will lead to a settled, engaged and motivated team, fewer issues, greater productivity and in turn profitability.
Serena spent many years in large corporate environments, gaining an understanding of the value of a contented workforce and how a happy and engaged worker is not only one of the company’s biggest assets, but also the ideal brand ambassador.
With 24 years in large corporates and 12 years working with SMEs, Serena has gained a valuable insight into how a diverse workforce with a wide range of skills can bring innovation, balance and stability to a company.
“Bower HR works mainly with SMES that are growing and maybe don’t have the resources for a full-time HR professional,” she explained. “I’m there to help with any issues that arise as well as performing the role of a Virtual HR Director – but I also feel there’s a real value in helping them understand why it is worth setting time aside to develop and successfully implement an EVP.
“Particularly at this time, as we’re emerging from the pandemic and back into the workplace, companies need to consider work adaptions, the work environment, and environmental, social and corporate responsibility initiatives to acknowledge what the company and its employees have been through and to give them reassurance that they are trusted and valued and that the business is continuing to move forward.”
An EVP can be summed up as ‘the reason why people work for you; feel empowered and motivated in the work environment to remain with you and that it enables a strong, trusting relationship resulting in improved engagement, loyalty and productivity’. Serena divides the proposition into six categories:
- Pay – not just how much but how open and fair the pay structure is and whether employees benefit from bonuses or profit sharing.
- Benefits – lifestyle, retirement, holiday and health benefits with flexibility to respond to the employee’s needs.
- Wellbeing – mental health strategies, acceptance, being supportive and compassionate
- Work Environment – practical work arrangements as well as things like variety, work-life balance, fairness and clarity, communication and policies and processes to support the employee lifecycle.
- Career development – stability and advancement prospects, understanding role and aspiration, performance direction and feedback and training and development.
- Culture and Belonging – a clear understanding of business strategy, the company’s reputation and values, trust and respect, and diversity, equality and inclusion
Serena added: “Particularly now, as we start to move out of the pandemic, employees may be feeling anxious because they have been working from home or reduced hours, and also uncertain about how well the company is faring after all that has happened. By trusting them and communicating with them and offering good leadership through the embedding of an EVP, employers can reassure them that they are valued and will be supported.”
Bower HR offers two workshops to help companies understand, firstly, their values and to embed them, and also the Employee Value Proposition, what it means and how it can be developed and implemented uniquely for their company.
“Very few of our clients are starting from scratch, a good company will already be doing a number of the things that we would consider part of an EVP,” said Serena, “but maybe what they need to do is bring it all together, identify any gaps there might be and devise a well-thought-out and workable programme that begins to embed the company’s values in a holistic way and begin that journey to building and improving employee engagement and satisfaction.
“Once we have helped do that, we will provide support, guidance and work collaboratively with the company from implementation through to measuring engagement through ongoing assessment, staff opinion and feedback.
“HR support is always going to be a cost to the business, but it seems sensible to me to use that support to build an environment where issues that could turn out to be even more costly are mitigated from the start. Your employees are your biggest asset and by having them engaged and on board with your values and goals is the foundation of success.”