OPINION: Why happy staff are good for business - as Gripple knows

Hugh Facey
Hugh Facey
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For a company which manufactures safety clips, it’s probably appropriate that Gripple knows a thing or two about its employees’ security.

Today, over on The Star’s business page (page 36), you can read about the internationally renowned company’s plea to fellow bosses about the dividends of playing fair when it comes to your workforce.

The firm has just enjoyed its best year ever. It also guarantees workers a £20,000 minimum wage, is employee-owned, pays into each staff member’s pension pot – so they don’t have to – and also offers life and private health cover.

Gripple’s boss revealed all this at the launch of the Fair Employer Charter in Sheffield. Well, you couldn’t ask for a fairer employer than that, could you?

The company is encouraging other workplaces to sign up to the charter, on the basis that happy, secure, contented employees make for a motivated – and ultimately profitable – business.

It’s a breath of fresh air at a time where so many businesses as well as public bodies are seemingly obsessed with cuts, cuts, cuts.

In fact, new figures revealed today (page 7) show that Sheffield is ranked a lowly 45th out of 62 UK cities when it comes to welfare and earnings – meaning our city is high in welfare and low in wages.

Something isn’t right there – when the fourth largest city in England is 45th in the table.

It’s clear that not only do more businesses need to take a leaf out of Gripple’s book, but that those in charge of attracting employers to Sheffield City Region need to do more to lure top- drawer firms to the city.

Last week, we learned that unemployment in South Yorkshire has fallen once again.

That’s fantastic news. But how many of those jobs were zero-hours contracts? How many even reached that £20,000 benchmark?

Of course, a job is a job and I’m sure many people who have been out of work for any length of time will be glad to get an opportunity to put bread on the table for their families or start paying off the credit card for all the Christmas presents.

It’s clear that more needs to be done by industry bosses, including at Sheffield Council, to make the city an attractive place for the kind of booming big businesses which can afford to make a positive impact on the lives of Sheffield people.

The charter is a positive step and a reminder of how much power employers have to create a happier city.

But it’s clear more work needs to be done.