What is Ethical Employment?

Simply put: When you take care of your employees, they will take care of your business. We call businesses that focus on people Ethical Employers – others call it holistic hiring. You’ve worked hard to start and scale your business. How it continues to grow will impact your immediate success and future exit strategy.

Think of your favourite businesses – why do you enjoy visiting or buying from them? Most people will answer customer service and great products. A great product can often stand on its own – but customer service is increasingly important for businesses to maintain and grow market share.

Think again of that business – do you interact with the same employees or is it someone new every time? Most people want to develop relationships with key employees – encouraging repeat business. Businesses with high turnover don’t have the opportunity to develop these relationships with their customers, making it more difficult for employees to perform at peak productivity.

Hiring employees opens up a whole new world of opportunities and potential pitfalls. Ethical Employment is a term that we use to describe holistic business practices – primarily Paid Sick Days, Fair Scheduling and Higher than Minimum Wages. These tools turn good businesses into great places to work, encouraging expert level employees to stay on board and drive repeat business – and reducing costly turnover.

BWA Member businesses with these “Ethical Employer” policies report less turnover, better employee productivity, and general happiness. When employees are happier, they perform better. It’s even becoming more common to see these employees become part of succession planning – giving you an exit strategy.  Read about our 3 key Ethical Business ideas below.

Paid Sick Days

Paid Sick Days are one of the simplest tools a business can adopt. PSD’s are a low-cost, high-impact tool to keep your staff protected and productive.

PSD’s offer multiple benefits:

  • Reduced workplace virus / cold spread
  • Avoid preventable downtime
  • Improve staff morale

PSD’s can be one of the best tools aside from increased pay that contribute to employee retention. In fact, PSD’s are proven to reduce workplace injuries and increase employee productivity.

Fair Scheduling

Remember that first job you ever had? If you’re anything like most people, you were expected to show up 15 minutes early and leave after closing – both unpaid. Or you might remember being called off a shift at the last minute – without being paid.

Fair Scheduling is:

      • Preparing a schedule at least two weeks in advance
      • Paying for same day call-offs
      • Paying employees to open/close

Evidence shows that when you create a consistent schedule, employees call in sick less often and staff retention improves. This is a best-kept secret of Ethical Employers!

More Than Minimum Wages

You and your employees work hard to bring your business success. One of the simplest and best ways to keep them happy is higher wages. It’s not always easy figuring out the right balance on wages.

Why More than Minimum?

  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Higher morale
  • Lower turnover

Living Wages have become popular (for good reason), and some BWA members are Living Wage employers. Others hope to get there someday – but there’s more to ethical employment – like Paid Sick Days and Fair Scheduling.  It’s why we take the holistic approach at the BWA.

We know paying above minimum reduces turnover and improves productivity. Combined with Fair Scheduling and Paid Sick Days, your business will experience far greater retention and resilience.  

How Do I Get Started with Ethical Employment?

There isn’t a one-size fits all approach to holistic business practices. Like most things in business, a little trial and error is necessary to find the right approach for your enterprise. Here are a few steps you can take to identifying what is currently working at your business:

1) Discussing current practices with employees

a) Identifying what’s working well
b) Noting areas for improvement

2) Asking your team what types of benefits are important to them

a) Is it higher wages?
b) How many Paid Sick Days fit your business model?
c) What type of scheduling would optimize your opening hours?

When you’re holding these discussions, it’s important to stay open and transparent. Just because you’re discussing an idea doesn’t mean it’s going to be immediately implemented. Setting out a timeline with your team is important to manage expectations and get them invested in helping you grow.