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iStock 1328500687
iStock 1328500687

Developing a happy team


With the UK now officially in recession, the cost of living soaring, not to mention all the implications of an increasingly prolonged war in Europe, it’s an understatement to say that these are challenging times for British business. Add to this increasing worker burnout, the phenomenon of quiet quitting and a growing number of economically inactive 50 and 60-year-olds, and it’s clear that business is facing a staff recruitment and retention crisis like no other.

As we enter a recession, organisations can’t afford a workforce that is not willing to give more. Restructuring, cutting spending on development and training and freezing pay and benefits will only drive resentment – and resentful people don’t give their all.  If people feel connected, aligned to the values of the organisation and able to be themselves they’ll be much more likely to step up. 

Employee relations need to modernise and businesses must wake up to what’s coming in 2023.  This is about understanding the workforce and manifesting belonging while boosting energy so that everyone ups their game.  

Staff Retention

Workplaces won’t be able to afford the current cost of attrition (which is £400k to over £1m for an organisation of 100, according to Gallup) along with the quiet quitting and lack of engagement currently being experienced. A radical change in thinking is needed.

This means putting people at the heart of company strategy, the P&L, and changing tack so that workplaces become places where people feel they belong. The Great Resignation might be giving way to the so-called Great Return, but it will be short-lived if people find a cold, uncaring or, even, hostile environment awaiting them every morning.

Successful workplaces will be those that put people at the centre of everything they do. Work should be a place of self-expression. At work, people should be able to understand their strengths and play to them, be encouraged to trust their instincts and see the best in themselves and the people around them.

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Companies should not only be mindful of their brand’s appeal to customers, but crucially they need to address their brand as a workplace. A work environment at its best creates a sense of purpose, it needs to feel like a family with everyone supporting and championing each other. 


We also need to ask ourselves if we can afford to write off the over-50s workforce. People are retiring early because they perceive that work can’t give them the quality of life they desire. A nationwide drive to encourage older workers back and convince them that work can be hugely stimulating and enjoyable would boost society and business.

Business could also be promoting work as something that makes people happy. When worklife is well managed and secure, when people align with a company’s corporate mission, we are all more likely to feel happy and fulfilled and less likely to leave. Considering the emotional impact of the work environment is so important. When everyone feels satisfied at work, they will also feel inspired to do their best, and this is crucial to business success in a recession. 

Successfully recruiting and retaining people is one thing, but it’s equally important to make sure existing teams give their best. For many businesses this is less a step change and more of a radical cultural shift. Prioritising self-expression is not just about letting people show their tattoos or wear jeans to the office, it is about creating a workplace where people are encouraged to explore their own values and feel comfortable and safe to express them. This builds a space where people are happier, more positive and actually want to do their best.

With one in five people looking to change their jobs and over 60% of them saying it’s because they can’t be themselves at work, change is urgently needed. Complacency will wreak havoc on British business and finding a new approach is nothing short of a national imperative.

Author: Liz Villani is the founder of #BeYourselfAtWork, a global movement dedicated to creating a new narrative about the way we work. Promoting work as an opportunity for self-discovery, the movement helps people to become their true selves in the workplace. Liz is the creative mind behind the BY@W product iAM, which helps people to define their character and to set out their personal values in their own words.

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