Your staff have done a cracking job for you throughout the year.  You want to give back to them, and do more for them - but where do you start?

Employees give their time and energy to you, but if all you give back to them is salary, you’re doing a disservice to them and your company. There's many ways you can help them, both materially and personally.

So if you’re thinking about ethically investing in your staff, here are a few ways to begin.

It’s not (just) about the money

Give your staff generous holiday allowance - more than just the statutory minimum.

A hefty bonus at the end of the year is always guaranteed to bring a smile to your staffs' faces. But money alone just doesn’t cut it anymore.

In Linkedin’s 20 Big Ideas for 2020, the top of the list item is - ‘the perk professionals will want most is time.’

Companies such as Function 1 have adopted an ‘unlimited leave’ policy, and say it has impacted their culture for the better:

“People are getting their work done and respecting the policy, but not stressing out if they need to miss an extra day here or there—time they’d otherwise be keeping track of nervous that they’re running out of days.”

We're not big fans of unlimited leave, as it can benefit the company more than workers who often feel pressured to not take as much as they should.

But it's a step in the right direction, and having a sensible, generous and fair annual leave policy will do the job.

If a team member is able to switch up their schedule to get to their son’s football match or an emergency dentist appointment, it not only impacts on their mental health positively, but their productivity - so it’s a win for you, too.

Recognise there’s a life beyond work (and it can benefit your company)

Understand that the best ideas come when we’re not working.

"Benevolence might pay for employers,” says John Pencavel, an economics professor at Stanford who has studied working hours and productivity:

“Shorter hours may not compromise output. Shorter hours may involve lower labour costs. Not only does the employer benefit, the employee can too.”

Don’t be scared about giving your staff free rein on downtime, and to pursue their personal interests and passion projects.

Creativity needs space. In fact, more space could actually benefit your business.

The beauty of downtime means that staff can access their problem-solving abilities, which can result in increased ROI. (Yep, it’s not always about the hustle.)

Investors In People say:

“To experience the results of creative incubation, we must be open to new experiences and sensitive to insights, which are felt by the body as epiphanies.”

These insights are proven by the latest findings in neuroscience, which show that our brains are most active and receptive when idle.

Photo by Dakota Corbin on Unsplash

Protect their mental wellbeing

Be sympathetic towards mental health - it positively impacts your business.

According to ACAS (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service), mental ill-health, including stress, depression and anxiety, is thought to be responsible for 91 million lost working days each year, more than for any other illness.

To invest in your staff ethically, start to see the cultivation of mental health as something you do everyday- don’t wait until something is broken before you fix it.

A study from London Business School suggests companies with high levels of wellbeing outperform the stock market by 2-3% a year.

Generally, employees want to be more open about their mental health, so it can have a positive impact on your brand if you are seen to be pioneering in this area. Why not start with implementing the unsick day?

Invest in their growth

Recognise their passions and interests, and invest in their learning

If you can invest in improving their minds, you’ll surely have their hearts.

Buffer are committed to continual learning, and are huge proponents of the ‘growth mindset’.

With that in mind, they've allocated $800 per year to every member of staff to invest in themselves, through training and development.

They've got a relaxed approach to the scheme:

“If folks want to spend more, totally cool – they just chat with their lead first.”

Imagine that feeling of autonomy and freedom amongst employees -  it feels nice to know that your employer trusts you wholeheartedly.

Employees shine when they feel energised and motivated

Know that when staff thrive, you thrive.

Ultimately, investing in your staff is about giving them energy - not just in terms of extra funds (which of course is always nice), but in things that fuel them - like more downtime to recharge, flexibility to sort life stuff, or a cool new learning program that gets their creative juices flowing.

Treating your staff ethically is looking at things holistically - not just within the company but beyond it.

You’ll also be saving on turnover, too - research has shown that people are 48% more likely to stay loyal to a company that meets their wellbeing needs. When people know how much you care, they automatically do more for you. They like, value and respect you as an employer.

And that kind of loyalty is priceless.

Thanks to writer Kerry Needs for her input on this article.

Feature photo by CoWomen on Unsplash