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Living Wage Case Study – Social Change UK

Posted on 24th August, 2016 by Lincoln Against Poverty

Social Change UK is a social research and campaign company working in the UK, Europe and beyond.

They specialise in carrying out social research to design campaigns that build emotional connections and encourage people to think and act.

Since founding the business five years ago, Director Kelly Evans has always paid staff the Living Wage, in line with her philosophy that small things have the biggest effect.

She said: “I’ve always tried to pay way above the minimum wage. The Living Wage Foundation is something I’ve always followed and always believed in, so it made sense to use that as a baseline that reflects the true cost of living, rather than the national standard.

“I don’t want to see any of my staff feeling like they’re in a state of poverty or feeling like they’re hard up because that will have an impact when they come into work every day. They may be feeling low, may be feeling like they can’t afford to live properly. I think paying staff what they deserve makes them feel more motivated.

“We’re a business that promotes social business aims – business needs to balance profit with responsibility. That responsibility is also to your staff and paying them a decent wage they can afford to live on.

“My view is you’ve got to pay people a decent wage but that isn’t the only thing that motivates staff. You can’t expect people to come to work feeling motivated if they’re not being paid properly, salary is important but it’s not the whole thing.

“As a small and growing business I can’t pay the wages other companies pay, but I want the staff to come with me on that journey and their pay will grow. I’m an advocate for the Living Wage but it’s only part of a bigger picture of how you recruit and retain staff, providing them with the right personal and professional development opportunities.

“I would say to other businesses if you start by paying the Living Wage you will see the benefits in terms of retention and recruitment. You are trying to compete with others who are paying a bit more. It sets out who you are and it shows you value your staff and you are going to pay them appropriately.

“A business needs to think about who and what they are as a business, and if their values match that of what the Living Wage ethos is about, then really they should be signing up.

“If you are a smaller business it’s quite difficult because to get started, you need to have staff, but you can’t pay those wages. But if you start from that place then you’re going to be in a better position in the long term.

“Paying the Living Wage will cost you slightly more than the national minimum wage, but statistics show the costs involved in finding, replacing and training new staff are likely to be higher if you don’t.

“Usually as a business you are trying to bring people in and keep people in those posts. Surely that has to start with paying the right salary, enough to maintain their standard of living.

“I’ve had staff who have been able to move out of shared accommodation, buy their own property, buy cars, have more of a life. Those are the kind of things that are motivating. It’s not the salary -it’s what they can do with it.

“They can live better, and that has a positive knock-on effect because they don’t dread coming into work.

“You want staff to come in and feel motivated to do the best job they can when they’re here. If they’re not being paid to a level that would give them a good standard of living as a business you’re going to feel the effects of that, such as; poor mental health, possibly low attendance, sickness, general ill feeling, or negative team working.

“I think in Lincoln we need to attract more people to come to the city to work here. We also need to try to retain some of the people who come here to study but go to other cities thinking they’re bigger and better. Actually Lincoln is a great place to work and it’s affordable to live here. You can have the lifestyle you want on the Living Wage. To retain talent in Lincoln is a great reason to pay it. The equation is increased staff salaries, with a lower cost of living, equals better lifestyles.

“At the moment, I think a lot of people leave. The university draws them in, then there’s a lack of opportunities. There have been improvements but a lot more needs to be done. Greater opportunities for people to start their own business here would help too. “

Social Change UK