A COMPANY which aims to help firms build better relationships with employees is hoping to kickstart its growth in the North East.
Entrepreneur Neil Cameron set up EIP Group to give guidance to businesses on how to make their staff more productive and inspired. This could come in the form of stress management workshops, promoting more corporate social responsibility, preventing accidents and injuries, encouraging exercise and nutrition, or developing the employee’s skills.
“When you look at the research on the most successful companies, it’s typically the ones who focus on workplace health that perform better,” he said.
“The challenge is that a lot of businesses, particularly in the UK, don’t always get it. It’s still seen as soft and fluffy, something that’s nice to have but not essential in difficult times.
“If you look at companies in the USA, they’re about five years ahead of us and it’s much more ingrained into their culture.” EIP group has developed a range of programmes using knowledge from North East academics and business experts in fields such as musculo-skeletal disorders, physical fitness, nutrition, human resource management and occupational psychology. “We help businesses to develop health and well-being strategies, and give them an actual quarterly idea of the return on their financial investment,” said Cameron.
“Essentially, we come in and look at the policies and procedures in place and, nine out of 10 times in SMEs, there’s not a huge amount going on, particularly in this part of the world. We then do some diagnostics on how much sickness is costing them, and get an idea of the stress levels within the workplace and whether the staff feel engaged. We then identify measures that could be put in place. That could be a number of things, depending on the culture in the business.”
Cameron says he has had conversations with businesses where morale has been battered by heavy workloads, staff reductions and reduced job security. However, he argues that companies should not shy away from adopting such policies because times are tough.
“Depending on what research you look at, there’s a three to one or six to one return on investment in well-being over an 18-month period. However, these things do take a long while to develop.
“To an extent, it comes from CEO and board level, and how they value their staff. Some might have a cut-throat strategy, whereas others want to manage and develop their workforces.”
EIP has worked with companies including Gateshead’s Spark Response whose human resources manager Edward Duffy said the “positive reaction” to the taster session has encouraged it to consider a longer-term commitment.
Cameron hopes to develop EIP in the North East, before branching out into the rest of the North and then across the UK. It worked with Newcastle University’s Changing Age for Business Initiative and Newcastle Science City to explore possible markets.
Newcastle Science City business mentor Matt Hindhaugh said: “It has long been believed that happy, healthy people are more engaged with their employers and productive than unhappy or unhealthy people – irrespective of their age.
“Ongoing research around the world is beginning to enable the measurement of just how much more productive these workforces can be.”