By Frith Thomas, Account Director at Irvine Partners


Having employees who are happy working for you isn’t just a personal matter, it’s an economic one. Happy employees are more focused, creative, motivated, productive, and positive — all factors which help shape a company’s performance. It also helps you to retain star employees, which is vital for business success.

We asked five industry experts for their tips on creating a happy, strong and successful work environment where employees can thrive, feel valued, and be inspired to bring their A-game to work every day.


Create an environment where employees can flourish

Aisha Pandor, CEO, SweepSouth

Looking after your team is about looking after your business. People who enjoy their jobs are more likely to stay, helping you to retain star employees and decrease turnover. On the flip side, losing employees costs the company money, results in loss of organisational knowledge, and uses more resources, as hiring, training, and onboarding new employees is a time-consuming, expensive process. 

To create the right atmosphere, you should build a team that suits the business in terms of skill-set, culture, and personality, but also prioritise diversity in terms of age, gender, background, professional experience, and nationality. Focus on shaping a work environment that promotes trust and a feeling of safety, encourages cooperation and teamwork, that gives team members support to flourish, and allows responsible freedom. And get people to buy into the fundamental reason that you do what you do. Having buy-in from skilled people on your team who want to be a part of the mission you’re on, is invaluable. 

Fostering the right company culture is another powerful tool in retaining talent. It helps to create focus among and engenders a feeling of identity. A strong culture promotes a feeling of enhanced trust and cooperation (we’re in this together, we believe in the cause!) between employees and bosses, with employees more likely to enjoy work when their needs and values are consistent with the company’s. One of the ways we achieve this is through our team members being able to nominate a colleague as SweepSouth’s weekly Values Hero – a staff member who embodies the company’s values of delivering quality work and being respectful, innovative, flexible and trustworthy.


 Don’t force square pegs into round holes 

Anine de Wet, Managing Director, 2AM Agency 

Generally speaking, the workplace is governed by systems and processes. For years there was a widely held belief that the quality of output was as a result of the effectiveness of those systems and processes. Today we know this is not true, and especially not in the creative industries where innovation and out-the-box thinning is our currency. 

Creativity doesn’t keep office hours, which is why we strive to create an open culture of trust and transparency that values output and performance as the key measure of productivity. Desk time, or even time in the office, does not necessarily correlate with the quality of work and it’s important to be aware of the distinction. Employees are so much happier when they know that it’s not about clocking in and clocking, or time sheets, but rather about the success they have. 

Having said that, there is value in regular in-person interaction between creatives and in the creative environment, whether it’s in a traditional office or elsewhere. Engagement between staff and management, as well as bouncing ideas off each other is crucial for progress and overall job satisfaction. 

In our experience the best way of retaining the top creative talent is to trust them to do what needs to be done, without looking over their shoulder all the time. Yes, any business needs processes and systems, but talent is far more likely to deliver within the set framework if there is a sufficient level of trust and freedom in place that allows them to do the creative things they do. Our company culture is built on the tenets of freedom, trust and transparency.


The physical space must encourage creativity, collaboration and comfort 

David Seinker, Founder and CEO, The Business Exchange 

With more companies transitioning to a hybrid model whereby employees have the flexibility to work from home some of the time and from an office the rest of the time, it becomes essential to ensure that the space offers what work from home doesn’t. That is, a pleasant environment that is designed with the needs of a specific organisation in mind — be that extra-width desks, sufficient quiet spaces for meetings or simply an ergonomic chair to sit on. 

Don’t underestimate the value in an office space that is stylish, fit-to-purpose and with facilities and amenities like coffee shops, gyms and secure parking close by. The impact of our physical surroundings on our wellbeing and our output is well documented, and retaining the best people includes providing the best office space in which to work, on the days when they are in office. 

At TBE the appeal of the physical space is key to our serviced office offering. We’ve put thought, expertise and effort into the design and layout of the space to reflect a modern, pleasant and ergonomically sound environment that promotes productivity and retains talent.


Focus on company values and brand reputation

Matt Poladian, Vice President of People, Liferay 

The new generation of workers wants to be proud of the company for which they work and to feel as if they are part of the solution to societal problems rather than part of the problem.

Being identified as a company that is involved in and supports charities and the local community can assist to retain employees who are passionate about helping others and making a difference. This might be expanded to address specific issues like education, quality, or the environment.

Employees worry not only about who they work for, but also about who they work with. Encouragement of a friendly environment and team-building events will positively reflect on employees, emphasizing the company’s dedication to the employee experience.


 Build diversity and inclusion into everything you do

Basel Talal, Radisson Hotel Group’s Regional Manager for Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Levant

The hospitality industry is no stranger to diversity — both in those who are employed by it as well as the many guests who make use of its services. Radisson Hotel Group, for example, has a corporate culture that relies on the fact that the company comprises many different mindsets. As such, diversity and inclusion is embedded into both the Group’s HR policies and the promise they make to their guests, that is, the need to respect individual differences, life experiences, and the diverse world views of wherever colleagues or guests come from. 

This outlook has allowed us to remain dedicated to building a truly global team of employees. In turn, our employees are able to understand the diversity of the guests we serve in terms of their needs, and how we should adapt our operations to meet their requirements and expectations.

Having a diverse team also enables us to create places where every staff member can express their own authentic self, seize opportunities, voice their opinions and make decisions with confidence. I think this is crucial. We have also learnt that different perspectives result in different skill sets being brought into the workplace, which helps us to create the memorable moments that have become one of our group’s key objectives.

Diversity in the workplace makes employees feel accepted, it makes them feel they belong and are valued, and it also makes very good business sense in reducing staff turnover.