A good workplace environment can have a significant impact on productivity, employee engagement and absence levels, but how exactly can you achieve this? Here are seven ideas for things you can do to make your business a better place to work:
Consider staff when choosing an office
If you are considering moving offices in the near future, make sure you consider staff needs carefully when doing so. It’s tempting to look mainly at cost, space and customer requirements, but you should also consider things like parking for staff, proximity to local amenities and food outlets, and whether the actual office space (not just the areas accessible to customers) are pleasant, spacious and airy.
Invest in the physical environment
Make sure the lighting in the workplace is of good quality and sufficient for the tasks involved, and that ventilation works well. Take steps to reduce noise pollution, both from outside and inside the office, and decorate the office nicely with light pleasant colours and art on the walls.
Make sure the workplace is kept clean to a high standard, repairs completed promptly and general maintenance kept on top of. Consider investing in the little things that make a difference, like nice handsoap in the toilets, free access to tea and coffee, plentiful cutlery and crockery, plants and nice furnishings.
Listen and share
Make time to consult with employees about key decisions, but also make sure staff generally feel they are able to share ideas they may have. You could make a specific method or time for this to happen, or just foster a culture where no idea is too silly and people feel comfortable that they can innovate in a safe way.
Share information with team members about what’s happening in the organisation, and encourage and facilitate the sharing of knowledge or skills.
Encourage work-life balance
Presenteeism leads to reduced productivity as well as resentment and lower motivation, so do what you can to discourage this kind of culture.
Similarly, if employees feel able to work from home, take time off for medical appointments or to deal with family issues, or can work flexible hours around their personal needs, this leads to greater staff loyalty and satisfaction levels, resulting again in higher productivity and better staff retention.
Facilitate social interaction
A team which has good social interaction both in and outside work tends to work better together, be happier and collaborate more effectively. You can facilitate this by organising events like Christmas parties and summer get togethers, but also by encouraging more regular low-key social events like team lunches, running or cycling groups, cake-sharing or even a workplace choir.
Team-building days away from the office, regular informal meetings and other ideas which get employees away from their desks and talking to each other can build relationships which make the workplace a happier environment as well as leading to work benefits through better collaboration.
Show appreciation and support
Make sure staff know they are doing a good job and get recognition for it. That can be as simple as just a thank you or a well done for a small thing, or could be public thanks in a team meeting, positive feedback in a one-to-one or even an award or a bonus.
Consider the level of support you are giving staff, and ensure those who need it receive it, and those who are fine without it feel able to request it. Prioritise staff development and training, and ensure that when a team member learns a new skills, he or she has the opportunity to put it into practice as soon as possible.
A high level of autonomy in the workplace is a key factor in job satisfaction, so facilitate this if possible, allowing staff to make their own decisions and have a degree of control over their work.
Don’t forget the wider workplace
Staff who work from home, spend time in company vehicles or visit client sites should not be forgotten in initiatives looking at improving the workplace. Make sure vehicles are replaced regularly, and kept well-maintained and smoke-free, particularly where they are shared amongst staff members. Consider client sites as well, and although you cannot influence the working environment as such, staff should feel comfortable to raise any concerns they may have with you, such as safety, access or behaviour.
Where staff work from home, make sure risk assessments are completed and that employees have the appropriate equipment needed, such as proper desks and office-type chairs.
If you need any advice on improving your workplace environment, do get in touch.