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As the recent high profile resignation from Goldman Sach’s Senior Executive Greg Smith shows, it is not just money that motivates an individual to work hard, but feeling inspired by your work and your company’s culture. During the current economic climate, business leaders need to ensure that their team experience a positive working environment, in order to guarantee staff engagement and therefore productivity, says Richard Close, a business transformation specialist.

Richard is passionate in his belief that while financial reward is important, employees will be more likely to offer loyalty to their employer if their working environment is an enjoyable, inspiring and challenging place to be. Having successfully managed the business turnaround of a number of loss-making companies into multi-million pound profit generators – including Briggs Equipment, where he is currently chief executive, Richard believes employee engagement is the key to success.

“Providing an environment where staff can thrive is vital to achieve success, “Richard comments, “Whilst some people are driven by financial gain, in my experience, most employees respond more positively to being able to work freely in an open environment where their input is valued and they are given the opportunity to contribute their own ideas and flourish. It is essential to put in place open communication channels where staff can provide their opinion on issues affecting their business. Run regular workshops where staff can communicate any idea they have, or perhaps set up an anonymous staff feedback campaign in case they feel reluctant to speak their mind. As they see their ideas come into fruition, they will feel more confident and this will help them to grow and develop as employees.”

Richard also advises on a number of ways to reward staff without adversely impacting the bottom line, stating, “Times are tough for most businesses and handing out large financial bonuses is just not possible for most managers. However, there are a number of ways to reward staff and create an enjoyable working environment without investing a significant amount of money. By imposing an open information culture where staff are aware of what is going on in the business – whether good or bad – will help them feel valued. Regardless of their job function, involve them in decision- making, and ask their opinion on issues affecting the business. By introducing small changes to the culture, you’ll inevitably notice a change in attitude, loyalty and ultimately staff development.”

Richard Close is chief executive of Briggs Equipment, the UK’s leading independent service provider and materials handling equipment supplier. Under Richard’s management, the company has gone from strength to strength, and recorded a tenfold profit increase last year – from £300,000 in 2010 to £3m in 2011.

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