How small businesses can keep their staff happy

How do you make sure employees are happy to work for Moneypenny?

The absolutely over-riding simple answer to this is that our people are our number one priority and we do all we can to create an atmosphere where people can flourish. It’s about recruiting the right people; happy people who make the place happy.

Of course, our staff want good pay and an interesting job, but what they also enjoy is birthday cake, bad hair days, great parties, friendship and support, healthcare, occasional car washing, charity work and a culture where every individual makes decisions as part of their team.

We recognise non-absence and try to do nice things on special days like Valentine’s Day and Easter. If it's a sunny summer's day don’t be surprised if a Mr Whippy van magically appears in the car park for everyone to have a free '99' on Moneypenny!

Why is being a happy place to work a priority for Moneypenny?

Happy staff make for happy and loyal clients. By understanding what our people want we can then deliver what our clients need through great customer service and client focus. Our Moneypenny receptionists very quickly become an extension of their clients’ in-house team, building great relationships and happily going that extra mile. We have clients today we have had since we started out in 2000. 

We firmly believe you can hear a smile at the end of the phone!

What are the challenges of keeping a business a happy place to work?

In any workplace of this size there is the potential for issues to arise but if you can get the basics right you won’t go far wrong. Open and honest communication is so important as is recognising the link between home and work and what may be happening for people in their lives outside of work. We listen to people, support them when they need it and everyone knows that office politics just aren’t acceptable.

We offer small interest free loans to our staff for example if they need a helping hand to relieve pressures at home and we would rather a ‘handbags at dawn’ approach where we sit people down and talk things through than let anything fester.

Should more small businesses focus on the atmosphere of their offices?

Definitely. We had the same approach when we were a small company as we do now as a large one. Most of us spend more waking hours in work than we do at home so creating a nice atmosphere people are comfortable in is important. This doesn’t need to cost too much money but pays dividends. Our annual staff turnover is less than 1% which hopefully speaks volumes.

What is the best thing you’ve done to create a happy office?

Working out that the right people for us are the people with the right attitude. We all know what this is but can’t always explain it until we experience it for ourselves.

We present awards for good ideas to acknowledge our employees’ commitment to our principles in any sphere of work or life at Moneypenny and we dedicate a parking space and have the Moneypenny ‘stars walk of fame’ for employees who have been with us for 10 years, all of which brings with it a sense of great pride.

Have any tactics backfired?

It can sometimes be difficult to ensure rewards, such as our Moneypenny flowers are given out fairly. We give them out to our receptionists for example when a client recommends us based on the great service they have received from them. Some of our receptionists have lots of smaller clients but some work for just one large client so we have to make sure we recognise all kinds of great performances across the business, support staff included.  

What advice would you give to small businesses who want to make their company a happier place to work?

Treat others as you would want and expect to be treated yourself. Be open and honest. Keep your staff informed of company activities and developments. Pay well, reward good ideas, be spontaneous and above all stay true to your values. Too many companies worship their customers but bully their staff and suppliers to make huge profits. That’s not our way.

What did Moneypenny do right when starting up?

Although small we thought big and set about being scaleable and sustainable. We started out by thinking as a client as we knew how it felt to receive a service that wasn’t up to the mark. My brother lost a big client in his previous life as a graphic designer when he went on holiday and left his calls with a telephone answering service. We knew we could do better so pooled our resources which then amounted to £15,000 and set up Moneypenny.

We had to be smart about money from the start – how we managed it, how we resourced it and most importantly never having anything in the small print that would surprise our clients. Our financial growth has been completely organic since then and we have never bitten off more than we can chew. As we have never been beholden to anyone else for money we have been able to make good and clear decisions in the best interests of our clients and our business.

What did it do wrong?

There have been odd times along the way when we have found out a little too late that someone isn’t right for the business but thankfully that hasn’t happened too often and it’s just something you have to work through. 


About Moneypenny

Moneypenny looks after telephone calls for businesses of all shapes and sizes - from sole traders right up to multinational corporations. For larger companies, Moneypenny can either support an existing reception team or provide a fully outsourced switchboard function. Based in Wrexham, and Auckland, New Zealand, Moneypenny has 280+ staff, a figure that is growing at a rapid rate. The company was founded by a brother and sister team in 2000 and the company now handles in excess of 8 million calls a year. Moneypenny is proud to have won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise and was in The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work for 2009/11/13.

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