Over the course of your career, you will have spent approximately 100.000 hours in the office. That is roughly 20% of your adult life.
So, wouldn’t it be great if the place you devote ⅕ of your life to is one that nurtures a creative and productive workplace atmosphere, and overall employee happiness?
As any successful leader knows, a happy worker is a productive worker. That’s why the newest business trend is creating a happy office environment that enables employees to reach their full potential during working hours.
On the other hand, if you are thinking about how to increase employees’ productivity, this insight shouldn’t come as anything new. Study after study has shown that employee satisfaction positively influences the company balance and plays a big role in the bottom line.
“How can that be if the company has to invest some amount of money to increase employee happiness?”, you must be asking yourself right now.
Well, let the numbers speak for themselves.
According to Snacknation, companies with happy employees outperform their direct competitors by 20%. Generally speaking, happy employees are more productive at work by 12%, while sales teams have a 37% higher closing rate. How’s that for increased productivity?
Moreover, employees who have reported being happy at work take 10 times fewer sick days than unhappy ones, while people who work with their best friends are healthier and seven times more likely to fully engage in their tasks.
Here is why happiness at work matters and why you should take it very seriously:
- Multiplies success
- Builds positivity
- Reduces stress
- Leads to a healthy life
- Increases likeability.
Arguably, if we wanted to create a list of all things that could make a happy office employee, it would be quite long and probably never really complete.
Nevertheless, here is a quick guide that includes some of the things you could implement in your office in order to increase productivity and job satisfaction among your staff.
Make the Office a Welcoming Space
Don’t underestimate the power of an aesthetically pleasing workspace with all amenities.
Invest in creating a physically welcoming and engaging office where your workers will be happy to spend their time and perform at the highest level.
If you have large teams and usually hold meetings a lot of people need to attend, you will need a big conference room to accommodate all of them.
Use bright colors and plenty of lighting because no one likes coming to work in a dark and dreary space. Why do you think miners are constantly unhappy?
You don’t even have to throw tons of money on redecorating to achieve this. After all, not every company can be Facebook, or develop a Google work culture via arcade machines and lazy bags in every office, right? It’s all in the little things, it seems.
According to Elliot Felix, founder of Brightspot - a strategy firm that helps organizations rethink their space - you don’t need to implement big, dramatic transformations to improve company culture and employee satisfaction. All you need are well-thought-out tweaks here and there.
In his opinion, fancy leather couches, gaming rooms, spa treatments - they don’t really spark a cultural change in an office - they are just window dressing.
To really start changing company culture and create a new atmosphere in the workplace, you must begin by solving problems. Talk to your employees to see where they feel most comfortable in the office and why is that so.
- What is their favorite chat spot?
- Where do they like to drink their first coffee in the morning or eat their lunch?
- Do they even want to work in cubicles?
These are all the questions you must consider if you truly want to understand your employees and how they feel about their time at the office.
“We’re never just talking about space. We’re talking about culture, etiquette, and rituals. What a lot of people forget is that we imbue space with our values”, Felix tells.
So, there are a few simple things that make your employees become productive (even more so) in the workplace you can do anytime. They will cost you practically nothing but you can gain a lot. Throw a Monstera Deliciosa in a corner or two, add a lounge chair in the area where your employees are leading the liveliest of conversations while on break, designate a room as a quiet place for your introverts to get away from crowds.
You can even go green and implement a recycling program, and use environmentally friendly furniture, sustainable supplies and fixtures, as well as safe and non-toxic cleaning products or pest control.
Finally, make sure you’ve updated your tech as well. Access to an uninterrupted Wi-Fi connection, computing technology, audio and video devices - these are all the makings of a modern workplace. Adding employee monitoring software can’t hurt either - and it will tell you what your employees are up to.
Offer Meaningful Perks
Research shows that modern-day employees value perks over a pay raise.
Most millennials expect their company to show that it cares about them and their personal lives by providing health and child care benefits, wellness programs, paid vacation and sick days, 401(k) plans, etc.
Moreover, you may also want to consider reimbursing your workers for programs for personal and professional development - buying books, classes and online courses, attending industry conferences.
Even “dogfooding” can be a big perk for your employees, depending on the industry you operate in, of course. It’s the practice where employees have discounted (and early) access to company products and services. When it’s about software (for example, for monitoring a PC remotely), employees have the chance to access and test it out first.
This perk is twofold:
- Employees feel valued because they are included in product development even though they might not be directly working on producing it.
- Managers have a lot more eyes on the product, thus are in the position to get plenty of valuable feedback before the official launch.
Give Recognition Where It’s Due
The modern generation of employees requires a constant influx of recognition - and you should provide it, when deserved, of course. That is the #1 reason for millions of Americans quitting their jobs in the last couple of years.
In fact, a study by the Gallup Organization found that among the 80.000 interviewed employees 82% feel more motivated to improve job performance when their contribution is recognized by superiors.
However, the time of giving out golden watches and tie tacks is long gone. This generation considers all information important (especially about their job performance). That’s why they prefer continuous feedback that results in mentorship, career path development (promoting from within), and similar ways of investing in and giving back to the employee.
One manner of doing it is via regular and systematic performance reviews. No, they’re not only for assessing your own work hoping for a raise. You can also use this opportunity to promote a colleague you’ve been working on a particular project with or just someone who is making your job easier or fun on a daily basis.
You can also praise a team member by introducing a monthly or quarterly award for a person who has embodied core company values in the previous period (even more than usual) or has significantly contributed to a successful project. Having access to monitoring software for employees would be of great help here as it can provide plenty of accurate, consistent, and reliable information.
While the previous concept has its merits, bear in mind that impromptu praise tends to bring the best results.
It just makes people feel more valued.
The praise given within a predetermined time frame may feel forced and artificial, while one that comes without a warning feels more deserved and will have a bigger impact not only on the receiver, but also on boosting the overall morale of the company.
Don’t Micromanage Your Employees
Micromanaging is big no-no as far as modern work environments go.
If it’s a new employee you are checking on lately, ask yourself why you are doing that.
Do you not trust the person whose skill set you have recently reviewed and accepted as beneficial for your team or are you just being cautious and helpful while they find their footing in a new environment?
Supervising if fine, just make sure you are not hovering. Allow your new hire to have enough room for showing what they can do and add some perspective to the way you have been doing things before they arrived.
It ties to giving voice to your employees - new ones and old alike - and including them in decision making. While it may not be feasible to include all members of your team in the process every time a big decision is being made, do it whenever possible.
It will make people feel involved, and it’s beneficial for the whole company to have engaged workers - even if you are monitoring employee computer activity. As a leader, you may think you always know what’s best, but more often than not, that just means you’re stuck in your own way of thinking. That’s why it’s important to provide your employees with the opportunity to speak up as much as possible.
Be Flexible With Working Hours
Nine to five working hours are also a thing of the past.
With remote work on the rise, it’s only to be expected that your company doesn’t really keep regular working hours anymore. If you haven’t gone fully remote yet, why not try working from home at least one day a week or once a week every month?
Some companies have the policy of letting their employees work from wherever two or three months a year (whether on their own or from a company retreat).
Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter where your employees work from or when. Their activities can always be tracked with a remote employee monitoring software, giving you a precise insight into how they spend their working days.
A little flexibility can go a long way, even if you do work from the office. Your employees may have developed daily routines that don’t allow for much productivity between 8 and 9 AM, for example. If their performance levels rise a little bit later in the day, what’s the harm in allowing them to have a bit of a late start?
Moreover, with the help of a good screen monitoring software, you can be sure your team’s activities are indeed work-related while also ensuring employee satisfaction, since they won’t be stressed about things like being 30 minutes late to work.
In a small or mid-sized company, you can even talk to your employees about which time period is best suited for all, and try to adjust company working hours accordingly.
Encourage Open Communication
Lack of communication or miscommunication is one of the biggest causes for frustration at work. That’s why you should encourage two-way communication with your employees.
Allow them to express their ideas freely and utilize them in your projects when applicable. Have one-on-one talks to resolve any stress points before they become full-fledged issues.
Organize productivity games for work, in-office workshops, and team-building exercises that allow employees to interact with each other, get to know one another, and find things to bond over.
For fully remote teams, the best option is regular get-togethers on the company and team level. That way, the people you talk to online most of the time become more than just some faces and letters on the screen.
This can be quite helpful in managing teams remotely - uplifting the staff morale and connecting people into a cohesive unit bound by a common objective.
Keep in mind that it’s in the company’s best interest to invest in its workers’ well being and comfort at work. It’s not about providing champagne and cake every day - it’s about making your employees feel valued and listened-to.
It’s about creating a company culture they can identify with - one that reflects their own professional goals and needs. That kind of a working environment is a long-lasting, productive and enjoyable one.
This article was originally written on June 28th, 2016 by Gina Ora. It was updated on June 11th, 2020 by Aleksandra Djordjevic.