Massage and recruitment: small can be beautiful

Veronica
Simpson talks to a company which says massage impacts its bottom line.

For
Iris, a London-based marketing services company, free massage treatments are
simply part of a more caring approach to staff.

Having
launched the company just over a year ago, the six partners were tired of
employers who claimed to treat staff as assets and then flog them into the
ground. Jo Schwarz, managing partner at Iris, admits that staff work long
hours, but says, in return, “We have made sure that we genuinely invest in
people. We pay slightly over the odds. We make sure they are loved – which
means celebrating birthdays with them properly, giving them flexibility in
working hours and also training programmes, and that we go out and entertain
them regularly”.

And
once every three weeks, someone from The Vital Touch comes in and provides a
20-minute on-site massage session, on the house.

Schwarz
justifies the annual £4,000-£5,000 massage bill, for its health benefits, and
also believes that it helps with recruitment.

She
says, “We were conscious when we set up that we’d probably find recruitment
very difficult. We were new, unknowns. Because of our caring policy, we have
had lots of really positive PR. People who visit the office are very impressed.
Recruitment agents understand our needs completely, and everyone they send to
us is spot on. We’ll have three or four good people for every position, so
we’ve been able to recruit a very powerful team. As a small company, we don’t
have room for mediocre talents.”

In
an industry where churn is very high, (most media and marketing companies
rarely keep staff for longer than 18 months) Schwarz believes that putting
company money where its mouths is, in terms of staff care, will help reduce the
need for, and cost of, replacement. If it works to keep one employee for an
extra year, it will have paid its way, with recruitment consultant fees
amounting, typically, to £6,000 per employee.

In
terms of staff well-being, its also invaluable, says Schwarz: “The massage is
something everyone looks forward to. Everyone who’s here has a treatment –
there are 24 staff, but we are never on site all the time. We pin a timetable
up on the notice board and there’s an immediate rush to get your name down. It
has actually sparked off people taking things into their own hands – they enjoy
it so much, they might go and book a full massage for themselves at the weekend
– and being generally more aware of their health, the need to drink lots of
water, eat fresh food and sit properly.”

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