This week, on Monday 11th November 2019, I had the honour to attend an event by the Living Wage Foundation, celebrating Living Wage Week and also announcing the new rates for both London and the rest of the UK. It was a very humbling experience rubbing shoulders with some truly amazing businesses that are shaping Leeds, who also believe firmly in helping the local Leeds economy by supporting their workers.

This got me thinking about how we came to get our names on a list of 83 Living Wage companies, who share the same commitment, to pay employees a fair wage for a hard day’s work.

It all started before we’d even setup the company. It was of paramount importance to me that Ground Up Digital be a company that not only helped train people who may have previously considered a career in digital marketing as a pipe dream, but also that we paid them fairly.

While conducting research for our social enterprise, I wanted to find out the best way to pay new staff to ensure that we were never going to become an employer who insists on people working for cheap in order to get their foot in the door. That’s when I stumbled upon The Living Wage Foundation. I called them up and discussed the criteria and from there we’ve never looked back.

We want our employees to have good lives. Eating healthily and maintaining mental and emotional health is difficult when you’re trying to keep the wolf from the door. Financial stress can lead to anxiety and depression. It can lead to poor work ethics, as when staff feel undervalued, it damages their confidence, self-worth and productivity. Either your staff will look for work elsewhere, to find a company that appreciates them and their efforts… or worse, they will stay in their post, unmotivated, stressed and suffering.

We strive to create a culture that rewards staff for their hard work, where going above and beyond is recognised and celebrated… Where staff are given a fair wage for the work they put in. This allows them to lead fulfilling lives outside of work and come into the office refreshed, focused and ready to make a real difference.

Paying staff more increases their disposable income, which in turn helps support the local economy. The more people feel financially secure and have spare, the more they will spend in local shops and businesses, which helps those businesses grow and develop.

People often ask me why we’re not a charity. I always say, because we’re a business. There are plenty of charities out there doing absolutely mind-blowingly amazing things, but we are a business who aims to empower people through work. We want to be an inspiration to the next generation of businesses, so we implemented the living wage from the beginning of our journey to ensure that this philosophy is embedded in our company culture and in the long run will help change lives.  

If you’re an employer who shares our vision, then it would be amazing if you could sign up to being a living wage employer too. Just get in touch with the Living Wage Foundation.

We’ll leave you with this video that really highlights the difference you can make, because what is just a number on your spreadsheet, could transform the lives of the people who are spending every day supporting your business.