North West businesses most likely to attract talent and business

Our new ‘Play and Productivity’ survey suggests the region’s business owners are turning to a playful working culture to attract the best talent and increase productivity

Paul Tooth: BrightHR Co-Founder and CEO

Business owners in the North West are leading the charge in creating fun workplace cultures to attract and retain the best talent and increase productivity, according to our new survey.

In our report on ‘Play and Productivity’ we also reveal how companies in Manchester and Liverpool lead other UK cities in their willingness to embrace a working culture and environment that encourages play to increase productivity.

Almost a third of business owners in the region (32 per cent) said they have ‘complete trust’ in their employees to have fun at work and still get the job done - the highest proportion in the UK. Whilst a further 57 per cent said they partially trust workers to have fun.

Our research has supported the notion that to increase the productivity of employees and compete with other businesses for the most talented workers, it pays to play. Workplace fun reduces staff churn, has a positive impact on staff morale, creativity and productivity - and ultimately, boosts the bottom line.

Introducing fun at work can be a simple process and can be centred on easy-to-organise activities such as Dress Down Fridays, massage or wellbeing days, or computer games.

The report suggests that while it’s important for business leaders to create a culture of fun, it’s essential that employees are empowered to have fun spontaneously. Encouraging staff to come up with their own fun activities leaves employees feeling more trusted in their roles and less likely to be on a ‘perpetual job hunt’, which is common amongst the Millennial generation

Although the survey’s findings show the North West in a more positive light, they also underline how many companies are reluctant to adopt a workplace culture where employees are trusted and empowered to use fun in the workplace.

Author and productivity expert Graham Allcott, who helped compile our ‘Play and Productivity’ report, said: “We live in an age where, in theory, productivity should be booming. But in the UK at least, it’s been flat-lining for a decade. Technology affords us so many exciting ways to improve productivity, whether it’s through software to automate or make tasks easier, the ability to work flexibly from home, or the opportunities provided by global connectedness. But there is also a downside, which many businesses just don’t see or mitigate.

“Many workers feel like the boundaries between work and life are blurring, that they’re required to check email constantly or that they’re being monitored and micro-managed. So creating a culture of trust, where people can feel engaged to have fun at work and participate in constantly improving productivity has never been more vital.

“Culture doesn’t just happen. It needs nurturing, and it’s encouraging to see employers in the North West leading the way.”

Looking at the country as a whole, only 26 per cent of UK businesses have ‘complete trust’ in their workers to have fun and still get the job done. In fact, fun in the workplace is actually regarded as the third-worst ‘drain’ on productivity behind HR and office politics.

Nevertheless, 89 per cent of business owners understand it’s possible to retain staff on the basis of having a fun work culture. This indicates that many businesses need to undergo a cultural transformation, with work leaders needing to focus on building a culture of trust.

I know the UK often lags behind on international productivity tables, however it’s brilliant to see North West businesses leading the way in encouraging workplace fun. This suggests businesses in the North West are really focusing on increasing the productivity of their workers to gain a competitive advantage.

But more companies across the UK need to embrace a working culture that places an importance on play. In addition to increasing productivity, our It Pays to Play research series indicates that fun in the workplace also reduces absenteeism and employment law issues leading to happier employees and customers, and ultimately more profitable businesses.”

Download the full Play and Productivity report