While paying the Living Wage has clear benefits to employees, research has identified clear benefits for employers too. Paying the Living Wage to employees creates value for an employer by:
• Raising staff retention rates
• Saving costs of recruitment and induction training
• Reducing absence and sickness levels
• Improving staff motivation and morale
• Improving productivity
• Enhancing profile and reputation of the business
• Attracting better staff
A new report by the University of Strathclyde and the Living Wage Foundation reinforces the business case for paying a Living Wage. One of the key findings states that implementing the Living Wage encourages businesses to re-evaluate their business model, leading to more effective and efficient working patterns in the long term. You can read the full report here.
Click on the tabs below to see our case study videos and interviews.
Visit Tanglewood Productions.
Here we interview Siobhan Wilson, Owner of FAIR, about why she signed up to the Brighton & Hove Living Wage Campaign.
How did you hear about the Brighton & Hove Living Wage Campaign and what made you decide to join up?
I had heard about the Living Wage Campaign at a book launch for “Naked Fashion” by Safia Minney. It is a book highlighting the many issues in the current fashion industry and the importance of being more ethical. I was talking to John Hilary, Executive Director of War on Want, a campaign group fighting poverty and he felt strongly that the Living Wage Campaign was a good global indicator of what people should be paid. I then went home and researched the campaign on the internet and felt it would be good to sign up for it. I heard of the campaign coming to Brighton through the Chamber of Commerce.
Tell me about your business, when did you set up the company?
FAIR opened in November 2008 and we work with local and national Fair Trade organisations as well as 10 organisations in Kolkata, India. Our shop at 21 Queens Road sells beautiful fashion, accessories and home wares made by these organisations.
What inspired you to set up your company?
I had an opportunity to work with organisations that I felt were doing a great job in tackling poverty in India through a colleague from University. I liked that organisations were using a business model to tackle issues rather than relying on aid and charity. I built the business up slowly during 2006 and 2007 and then went into it full time once I opened FAIR in 2008.
Have you always paid your staff a wage at the living wage level?
No, I paid minimum wage until I became aware of the Living Wage Campaign.
Why is this?
I still consider us to be a young organisation so I was watching every penny but after I had become aware of the Living Wage Campaign I felt it was right to adjust the hourly rate as this campaign is identifying what people should be paid to live to a certain standard
Some businesses say that they would need to make staff redundant If they paid them the living wage. What is your opinion on this?
I have had to think about this a lot. As I have said we watch every penny. The past year has been very challenging for us due to the rainy weather and the recession and I have had to make staff cutbacks due to a drop in sales. I made the decision that I still wanted to maintain the living wage as most staff already supplement their hours with another job too or they are studying. I would prefer to pay the living wage for the hours that they are working for us and to make it worthwhile for them to come in to work.
Do you think that paying a living wage benefits your business as well as your staff?
I think paying a fair wage is part of our ethos and shows that I care for my employees. I know that our staff are loyal and highly motivated and I feel that this is due to this ethos.
Do you have any other comments that spring to mind about the campaign?
The importance of the campaign is that the Centre for Research and Social Policy is looking at people’s basic living costs to calculate the living wage. I think we are facing challenging times and it is only fair that people are paid a proper hourly rate for their work.
Here we interview Craig Jones, CEO of Brighton & Sussex Care, about why they signed up to the Brighton & Hove Living Wage Campaign.
How long have you worked in the care sector?
Having had a military career for over 20 years I then worked in the city on key projects leading on diversity, inclusion, human rights and became a workplace disability expert. With 2 other Directors we set up Brighton & Sussex Care 4 years ago and between us we have over 75 years experience in the field.
Why do people choose to work in this sector?
Our staff have an innate sense of vocation, usually because they have experienced in some way how rewarding and essential proper care in the community is. We employ people with a wide range of backgrounds, some with vocational experience and others who are graduates and arrive here with a related degree in Social Care or Psychology. The career path we put them on ensures that they have rewarding careers which grow with the company. We offer many opportunities to develop personally and professionally.
Why do companies in this sector traditionally pay less than the living wage?
There is a huge pressure to reduce costs in adult social care and some companies try to address this by reducing their highest cost, which is the salaries they award to their main assets. The consequence of this can be that ultimately poor pay results in service users experiencing levels of support which are below standard. Staff retention is poor and hiring and training costs go up and savings are made in the wrong areas. Our mission at Brighton & Sussex Care is to employ people on a living wage and upwards so that we recruit and retain our staff ensuring consistency and quality service. To date this has worked very well. We have below 5% staff turnover.
In just four years you have become one of Kemptown’s largest employers. What are the secrets to your success?
Firstly we invest in our people as they are our greatest asset. Retention is everything here and putting our people first works. When people are paid and managed well they are loyal, do a great job, enjoy coming to work and sickness levels are low. We have a very good sickness record because we address any support issues straight away. Caring is a very stressful job and we ensure our staff know that we take this into consideration and always have support when they need it. We also run our business on a very lean budget, our focus is on the people not on the resource. The result of this is that we have a very happy staff team. Referrals come to us because we have a high success rate – which is partly because we reward our people fairly.
What needs to happen to make the care sector and its delivery better?
I think some Directors in other care companies might not be looking far enough down the telescope. In 2010 we put together a long term business plan and it has worked. Instead of looking at short term costs we took a longer term view on the way we employ people and therefore overall our staffing costs are lower because we do not spend time on recruitment training and sickness levels. We are still benefiting from the brave decisions we made 4 years ago. At Brighton & Sussex Care we need to deliver the right support at the right time, first time and every time and that can only be achieved by paying people what they are worth, and making them feel valued within the structure they are in. It’s simply not fair to expect people to meet the enabling costs of employment. Quite simply, the living wage makes good business sense for our sector and every sector.
Brian Warren, the owner of Quick HR, gives a quick explanation of the living wage and how it can make you a great employer.
Do you pay employees at least £7.85 an hour? If you’re not sure, that’s a salary of £15,100 – £16,300 depending on the length of your working week (based on 37-40 hours a week).
If you’ve answered yes, and most digital media companies will for a start, then you can show everyone that you are a great employer who isn’t trying to pay people peanuts. You can get a logo to display on your website and be listed on the Brighton & Hove Living Wage Campaign’s website too.
The living wage idea is based on paying people an amount of money they will need to live in Brighton and Hove and not just survive. With rising housing, energy, transport and food prices, anyone earning less than £7.85 may struggle.
For employers, it means that unless you plan to only hire people who still live with their parents, you will have stressed workers worrying about how they can get by. They may go off sick or leave – perhaps having to move to other areas where prices are lower or to work for other employers who will pay more. So by saving a little money on wages, you are losing money on recruiting and training people.
Signing up at http://livingwagebrighton.co.uk/ only takes a minute. Why not join the growing list of local companies who have already confirmed they pay people at least £7.85 an hour and show the world that you too are a good employer?
If you are interested in how the Living Wage supports retention, increased productivity and a stronger ethical brand, take a look at some of the available research: