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A great employee is like a four-leaf clover: hard to find and lucky to have.

We’ve probably all heard the phrase at some point in our working lives. Or perhaps read articles about “unicorn employees”, that near mythical being who is talented, dedicated, hardworking and team player all at once.

Employers are constantly on the lookout for these perfect candidates, who will come in, like a breath of fresh air and reinvigorate the work force with their positive attitude and sunny demeanour.

But what if we’re missing a trick? What if the key to reinvigorating your workforce doesn’t lie with fresh blood; the fabled (and likely fictitious) perfect candidate, but is actually already within your existing team? What if a great employee doesn’t need to be found, but formed?

So what’s the secret to creating a team full of four leaf clovers? We think it’s simple:

Employee wellbeing.


Studies show that, on average, 26% of an organisation’s workforce is actively disengaged.[i] Actively disengaged employees are unhappy, unproductive likely to spread negativity to co-workers. If what you’re looking for is a team full of unicorns, this type of worker is undoubtedly your poisoned chalice.

In fact, disengagement is costing UK businesses £52-70 billion per year in lost productivity.[ii] And it’s not just low productivity; disengagement leads to low morale in the workplace, poor customer service, more sick leave, and higher staff turnover.[iii] In short, this is a ticking timebomb for your organisation, with each disengaged employee costing you, on average, £2,500 for every £7,500 of their salary.[iv]

That means for each employee earning the UK average salary of £29,000, organisations are losing £9,666 each year. If 26% of your workforce are costing you almost £10,000 each a year, then it might just be worth doing something about it!

And that’s where employee wellbeing comes in.

Every time we board an aeroplane, we’re reminded that, in the event of an emergency, we must put our own oxygen mask on before trying to help someone else. This is just as true in our day to day working lives.

If our employees are able to look after themselves, and come to work feeling happy and fulfilled, they’re going to do a better job of looking after their colleagues, customers, clients and patients. By prioritising wellbeing and cultivating joy in the workplace, you’re ensuring their needs are met, and that they are physically, socially and emotionally nourished. You’re making a bold statement that you trust them with your organisation, you want to invest in them because you appreciate and value them.

And very quickly these small changes begin to make a huge difference to the work place.

Productivity goes up, service improves, people move from problem-making to problem-solving. Work becomes enjoyable, staff feel appreciated, and so their morale goes up, and they work better with others.

So, what steps can you take to improve employee wellbeing and empower your workforce to drive the positive changes you want to see? Here are five simple starting points to think about:

1. Listen

Your team know more about their jobs on the front line than you do. No one knows better than they how to improve their working conditions, how to make systems more efficient and, often, how to implement cost cutting measures. By asking them for their thoughts and ideas, you are tapping into a huge wealth of knowledge, whilst also making sure your employees feel valued, trusted and appreciated.

2. Feed back

It’s important not just to make a show of listening, but to give feedback on what you’ve heard. Of the ideas you’ve been given by your team members, which can you implement quickly? What can be put into a programme of change? How much can you action? Let your team know that you’re acting on their ideas will boost their sense of value and their overall morale.

3. Celebrate

Going out of your way to recognise milestones and celebrate successes reminds your workforce that they matter to you as individuals. Work anniversaries, birthdays, and completing training courses or certifications are all opportunities to show your employees just how appreciated they are. A Harvard Business Review study recently showed that the number one reason employees jump ship is lack of recognition in their roles, and it also has the largest impact on employee engagement. And yet 74% of employees say that they rarely or never receive praise from their managers.[v]

4. Be real

Where you have issues in the organisation, it’s not helpful to try and paint a picture that things are better than they are. By being honest with yourself and your employees, you begin to make space for your workforce to problem solve for themselves. You’re telling them that you trust them to make the organisation better and you believe that they have the solutions the issues they face day in, day out.

5. Be flexible

Employees increasingly value flexibility from their employers. This can be extremely difficult for shift workers, frontline service staff and highly pressured services, but even small gestures can make a huge difference. Options such as the ability to shift swap, buy and sell holiday days, phased returns after leave and phased retirement, on-site childcare, or job sharing. Giving your staff members the opportunity to improve their work/ life balance will lead to fewer sick days, and longer service.

Increased engagement within your workforce leads to happier employees and improved performance. ImproveWell is a digital solution focused on Quality Improvement which empowers frontline staff to drive change.

ImproveWell has three core feedback systems:

  • Staff can share theme-based improvement ideas
  • Staff can share how their day at work is going, helping organisations track workforce sentiment
  • Staff can complete bespoke pulse surveys


To find out more about how ImproveWell can work with your organisation to help improve staff engagement and employee wellbeing, please get in touch.



[i] Gallup, State of the Global Workplace,2013 http://www.ihrim.org/Pubonline/Wire/Dec13/GlobalWorkplaceReport_2013.pdf

[ii] Gallup, State of the Global Workplace,2013 http://www.ihrim.org/Pubonline/Wire/Dec13/GlobalWorkplaceReport_2013.pdf

[iii] Engage for Success, The Evidence – Employee Engagement Task Force “Nailing the evidence” workgroup, Nov 2012

[iv] Gallup, Worldwide, 13% of Employees Are Engaged at Work, 2013

[v] https://www.stepstoneglobal.com/news-insights/