A healthy, wealthy and inclusive society starts with a happy employee, writes Rachel Hunter, HIE’s director of service delivery.

There’s no doubt that people do a better job when they’re happy in their work. They’re more committed, more productive, and more innovative.

And when there are lots of committed happy people doing lots of good work and contributing to business innovation, the organisation benefits.

When this happens, the economy prospers, communities thrive, and society in general is healthier, wealthier and more inclusive.

It’s not rocket science really.

The question is, how to make sure your employees are happy. This is where the concept of fair work comes in.

Defined as ‘work that offers effective engagement, opportunity, security, fulfilment and respect for employees’, fair work supports workers and employers to shape their organisations together, and to develop the skills needed for a successful future.

More and more employers are embracing the idea and seeing the benefits. Almost all those we currently work with have already adopted fair work practices.

They continually engage their employees and inspire them to explore and discover better ways of doing things, thereby fostering and developing talent and creativity across their organisation.  

To highlight and encourage this cultural shift, we are sponsoring a new category at the SCDI Highlands and Islands Business Excellence Awards this year.

It’s the Highlands and Islands Enterprise Award for Excellence in Fair Work Practices Leading to Workplace Innovation

We want to hear from businesses and organisations that have seen improvements in productivity, culture, planning, wellbeing and inclusiveness in the workplace, brought about through the adoption of fair work principles.

The award will be presented at the ceremony in Inverness on 9 September to the best example.

Meanwhile, for organisations looking to become a fair work employer, help is at hand.

We have a web page with information on adopting fair work principles, including access to a fair work tool.

The Fair Work Convention in Scotland also has a helpful Framework explaining the dimensions of fair work and how they can be achieved. They include:

  • paying all employees at least the real living wage;
  • only using zero hours contracts when appropriate;
  • taking proportionate action to address any gender pay gaps, and
  • offering flexible family friendly conditions.

Effective voice is a key factor. This means having a safe environment where dialogue and challenge are central to the organisational culture, are dealt with constructively, and where worker views are sought out, listened to and acted upon.

Effective voice requires workers, employers and worker representative groups to work together to make sure the right decisions are made so workers are treated fairly and equitably.

The concept of fair work is a simple one, but also very powerful. So much so that it’s being used in Scotland’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation to help reorient our economy and to deliver higher rates of employment and wage growth and tackle poverty.

If it’s not fair work, it’s unfair work.

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