While the exact amount of time that we devote to work over the course of a lifetime varies depending on profession, on average, UK workers can expect to spend around 80,000 hours or 3,500 days earning a living.
Most of us would hope to spend as much of that time as possible doing something that we find enjoyable – to be challenged and stimulated but also to be rewarded for the efforts that we put in, in a way that extends to more than just receiving our wages at the end of the month.
Unfortunately, that is not always the case. According to official statistics from the government’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE), 828,000 people suffered from work related stress, depression or anxiety in 2020 – resulting in a total loss of 17.9 million working days over the course of the year.
For employers, those figures serve to underline that providing a positive environment for staff is not only essential for the wellbeing of individuals, it also plays a vital part in the overall productivity of an organisation.
“The last 12 months or so have been very tough, the pressure on everyone has been incredibly high,” says Mike Parczuk, Managing Director, Sternfenster. “That’s due to Covid, to the stress of lockdown restrictions at work and outside of it – and market conditions have also added to the pressure.
“Demand has far exceeded expectations and that’s meant that we have had to work even harder to fulfil orders and maintain customer service at a time when resources are really stretched.
“Overall, I’ve learnt that the people we employ are very strong, they work very well as a team,” continues Mike. “This means that as a business we are very robust, we can tackle pretty much anything. I’m extremely proud of how we’ve performed.
“But I’ve also learnt that we could be doing more for our staff, to make sure that they are properly recognised for their efforts and the outstanding contribution they make to the company.”
A family run business, Sternfenster has an enviable reputation within the industry for the quality of its product offering, but also its customer service.
Market leading initiatives include EasyAdmin, a CRM system that allows customers to track leads, place orders online and auto-generate invoices and reports and Sternfenster Plus, an exclusive resource that includes a wealth of training and marketing material, and which provides installers with live data on orders, deliveries and production capacity.
These are supported by a set of company values that are designed to continually enhance the level of Sternfenster’s service by developing and motivating the people at the heart of the business.
This has included a commitment to Investors In People, an accreditation scheme that is designed to help organisations set out processes for the continuous improvement and recognition of staff.
“I’m very proud of our Investors in People survey,” says Mike. “Everyone in the company, from factory floor to sales, right through to accounts and delivery, was asked to provide feedback on what it’s like to work at Sternfenster.
“The results were really encouraging, we learnt that a very high proportion of our employees feel that we have clear values; 90% feel trusted to make decisions in line with their role and 91% said that their role enables them to work well with others.
“Overall, we scored higher than the industry standard for manufacturers across a range of criteria, and we were awarded a Silver Status as a result,” continues Mike. “Only 20% of organisations that are assessed for Investors in People achieve Silver, and it shows that we not only have the right principles in place, but that we’re actively encouraging them to be applied throughout the company.
“While the survey was really positive, it showed that we could also be doing a lot more,” adds Mike. “That includes making sure that we continue to empower and involve everyone in what we do, to consistently recognise their efforts and to encourage growth within the business, but also to ensure that we have systems in place to properly address the mental health and wellbeing of our staff.”
Following on from its Investors In People survey and as part of a company vision to graduate from Silver to Gold status, Sternfenster has introduced a number of new initiatives for its staff.
These include Perkbox, which allows employees to take advantage of exclusive offers and discounts on food, entertainment and restaurants, and also presents an opportunity for anyone in the business to recognise the achievements of colleagues, whether they are work related or not.
This is in addition to a new Culture Hub, with includes links to an internal newsletter and company documents as well as details on an Employee Assistance Program. This includes a free, confidential helpline that’s accessible 24 hours a day, round the clock access to a doctor and a range of other services that offer dedicated support for stress, emotional problems, family or bereavement issues and even advice on debt.
“At Sternfenster we have a clearly defined set of family principles, designed to develop and motivate our team so that we are all invested in the same values,” concludes Mike. “Ultimately, the aim of improving on our Investors In People Silver status, of making it our vision to achieve Gold, is to recognise and reward the people that work at Sternfenster.
“In doing so, we will not only have a healthier, happier and more productive workforce, but we will further enhance the level of service we offer to our customers as a result. “
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