You can break down work environments into two broad groups (with a ton of shades of gray in between). The one that employees dread waking up for every morning and can’t wait to get out the door at night and the other where steps are consistently being taken to improve the workplace so that the employees look forward to the day, the people they share it with and the work they are doing. The latter of the two are companies and businesses that are successful, productive and providing the world with great things.
The more comfortable people are at the workplace the easier the flow of ideas become, the willingness to help and participate improves and as a result a better product is produced. Bottom line, people should WANT to come to work. I mean it’s something we typically have to do around 40 hours a week for around 40 years of our lives.
The same goes for a company. The more motivated their employees, the more dollar signs they can generate. It’s an easy win-win situation for both parties. So if you’re looking to make more money and may be a shade of gray that we discussed earlier, these six simple changes can improve the workplace (you may be doing some of these already, so all may not apply to you).
1. Start the day later
If it isn’t necessary that your company be open at the crack of dawn, let your employees enjoy the morning instead of rushing out the door. This doesn’t mean opening the doors at noon, but what about just a half an hour later than you typically would? This allows people to catch a few more Z’s, get the kids off to school, grab breakfast or miss traffic.
2. Give employees the opportunity for free time
Google, maybe the most successful business in the world, allows their employees to spend 20 percent of their time working on their own projects. That may not be something your company can do, but giving employees just a few minutes away from their desk to clear their head works wonders.
3. Team Building Events
Company events away from the workplace are a great way to raise morale. Let people unwind and relax away from the office with the people they spend so much time with. This allows employees to get to know each other more on a personal level. In the end, when people really get to know each other it’s easier for others to approach them, no longer afraid to suggest ideas and overall get work done.
Whether you choose to follow Zappos and have a Pie Your Boss day or keep it simple with happy hour at a local bar, bringing co-workers together in a different environment helps everyone get know each other.
4. Company Lunches
Offer employees lunch whenever you deem fit. This may be on special occasions, holidays, monthly, weekly or out of the blue! Again, it gets people together and away from their typical activities. A full stomach can reenergize someone for the rest of the day (and taste better than those 5 Hour Energy’s). A monthly free lunch is minimal cost to a company, but has great return on investment.
5. Contests or Giveaways
Contests or giveaways can be incentive based or just random acts of kindness. Contests or trivia are fun and get people thinking outside the box. It also generates competition which fuels people as well. Giveaways, on the other hand, can just be a great morale booster. Did your company have a great month or exceed quarterly goals? Buy everyone something like a custom printed water bottle or tote bag that reminds each employee that you care and appreciate their hard work.
Everyone in higher management should be doing this already, but might need a little kick in the butt as a reminder. Listening to your employees is the most important rule to keep the workplace upbeat. Be sure to evaluate what they have to say and use your judgment to continue to keep the workplace great.This listening and taking the appropriate steps to improving the workplace is a sign of trust, appreciation and a good form of motivation.
Don’t get flabbergasted if you feel these six tips are too much to change the workplace. Try implementing one at a time over a long period, as not to overwhelm yourself or your employees. This way employees will notice each time you try out a new strategy and you can slowly see their smiles grow bigger every time they come into the office.
These simple tips don’t take a lot of time, money or effort to put in effect and the benefits can be immense.
What more suggestions do you have to improve the workplace?
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Thoughtful list. Work trends are evolving rapidly, and people are beginning to pay more heed to how, and where, they work.
Another good idea for employees is to allow their workers to work remotely. With advances in technology, most employees can work from anywhere as long as they have their laptop; and many companies are now embracing this fact and buying day tickets or hiring desks at coworking spaces, collaborative workplaces for mobile and flexible workers.
Working closer to home, and/or in a different environment can reduce employee attrition and inspire creativity and innovation. For many employees, a coworking space is a hub of talent and an opportunity to be exposed to new networks and ways of doing things.
For this reason, 74% of coworkers said their productivity increased, and 84% said their business networks increased. (Source: Deskmag)
It might explain why companies like Google (amongst others) have even opened their own coworking spaces (London Campus and TechHub)… but there are coworking spaces all over… employers can search and book one in their city.. (the proof is in the pudding!)
Great ideas to improve the workplace. I especially like starting the day later. You would be surprised how a half hour change your whole day.
I’m going to play Devil’s advocate here. If there is already good workplace “chemistry” then the above ideas are great. However, if there is already crappy morale, managers don’t listen, etc, then some of the ideas above would be viewed as insulting. Think of it this way, people are expected to work 60-80 hr weeks because of bad planning/too much work/whatever, so the company will show it’s appreciation by handing out a ‘lousy’ $8 water bottle? In a negative environment management would seem out-of-touch that a trinket would help things, which could make the mood even worse.
Of all the one’s listed above I think listening would probably be the most appreciated, and would likely lead other places. We tried many of the items mentioned with poor results. (When I used to work for HBC) I like Google’s idea, and have heard of other “cutting edge” companies using that form. (Design companies allowing designers an hour a day to work on their own sites, things like that)
Good ideas for improve the environment on the workplace, if we put some atention on this, good things maybe happens. 😉
Agreed, great list. I love the idea of a later work day for a more relaxed, productive work environment. Company lunches are great too. At one of my employers we had EAIs — employee appreciation initiatives that we went on quarterly to lunch and a fun activity.
I’d also add Make sure your employees get enough time outside the office’. Ample PTO, vacation and sick time is crucial in avoiding burn-out and showing that the company cares.