No matter what industry you’re in, you probably share a couple of common universal goals: for your business to do well and for your employees to be happy. So besides curating a good business plan and setting goals, you should also spend a good amount of time creating a better workplace that your employees will thrive in!
Many employees spend eight or more hours a day at their work, which means that the environment can play a huge role in their overall health and mental wellness. By curating a positive workplace environment, you can help support your workers — and promote a more productive workday in the process.
Why your workplace environment matters
First and foremost: a better workplace environment very often translates to better workers! When your employees feel valued and heard, and they have a comfortable work area that they can actually enjoy being in, it gives them all the tools they need to operate at their highest capacity.
Keeps workers healthy.
Fostering a positive workplace environment can also do wonders for their physical and mental health. Being in a comfortable and positive-minded space can help minimize stress, which can then help keep the environment more productive while also protecting your workers’ overall wellness.
Promotes employee retention.
By simply making your work environment a better, more positive place to be, you’re doing your due diligence in keeping those hard workers around for longer! Meanwhile, unhappy employees who hate coming into the office every day are more likely to be less productive and mentally fatigued … and they’re also going to be more likely to leave once a better opportunity presents itself.
Tips for curating a better workplace
Ready to make your workplace somewhere that your employees actually like to be? Read on for tips on crafting the perfect workplace!
Emphasize open communication.
Communication is key — we hear this often when talking about romantic relationships, but it’s just as important when you’re running a team of workers! Make sure that you’re finding ways to communicate all important information promptly and clearly, whether you’re giving individual workers feedback or communicating company-wide changes and breaking news.
Your style of communication is also just as important here: make sure that you’re using respectful language, being clear and concise, and encouraging questions when need be to make sure that everyone is on the same page.
Similarly, find ways to encourage employee feedback to upper-level management as well. Make your work environment a safe space for workers to voice any concerns. Having communication open both ways can do a world of good in making everyone on the team feel heard and understood, and it also makes for a more seamless work environment at the end of the day.
Hire a stellar team (and learn how to recognize if there are members who are holding you back).
Your team is only as good as the people in it, which means that it pays to spend extra-special attention during the hiring process. You want to make sure that you’re hiring workers who can not only do the job well but can also fit in with your workplace culture and be an asset to the team.
In the same vein, it’s also important to recognize if you have someone on your team who is holding you back from reaching the common goals. Learn how to recognize bad behavior, whether that means a toxic, gossipy coworker or an unreasonably bad attitude when it comes to pulling their own weight during a project. Give them ample chance to learn and correct those behaviors after opening up a line of communication with them about your concerns, but also know when it’s time to cut the cord for the better of the team.
Your workers spend the majority of the day with their coworkers, which means that developing a sense of camaraderie is a big deal once it's time to get down to business.
Incorporate regular team-building exercises, meetings, and ice-breaker exercises whenever your schedule allows it so that everyone can learn more about their team members and the ways that they work best. In addition, try adding some fun events like mixers, team lunches, and parties into the mix so that your employees are encouraged to let loose and develop real connections with their coworkers.
Emphasize the importance of work-life balance.
Few things can make employees feel as worn down as constantly dedicating their time and effort to a company that does not acknowledge that they’re human beings with human needs. Recognize that your employees are real people outside of their office tasks, and emphasize the importance of a good work-life balance. Allow people to take their breaks when needed, honor PTO, and give them ample opportunities to recharge and refresh away from their work.
If possible, you can also incorporate a more flexible schedule — in other words, craft a schedule that includes some remote working days and some in-office days, or allow for flexible clock-in and clock-off times as long as the work gets done. Allowing workers to have some freedom in their schedule can help them operate at their best without feeling run down by a repetitive daily 9-5 grind.
Make the office as comfy and ergonomic as it can be.
Sitting all day can wreak havoc on an office worker’s health, so it’s important to find ways to make your office as comfortable as possible wherever you can. Use ergonomically correct desk set-ups, look into using alternatives like standing desks and kneeling chairs, and encourage regular office-wide stretch breaks to break up the monotony and give your workers opportunities to stay physically healthy.
Other excellent ideas for optimizing your work area:
- Create several designated spaces in the office where people can either work collaboratively with their peers or escape to a quiet and focused private area, depending on what their workflow requires for the day. Phone booths and meeting pods like Pillar Booth are excellent ideas for any open office layout since they can give your employees a private, focused area to work in whenever they need peace and quiet to operate at their best. They’re also space-saving and can be installed in virtually any office, which means that you don’t need to construct whole new rooms to optimize your workspace!
- Boost natural lighting and fresh air wherever you can — for example, by keeping the windows open whenever the weather is nice or setting up a couple of outdoor tables and desks if your building allows it. Even incorporating natural elements inside like plants and water fixtures can do a world of good in keeping your employees’ spirits up during a long office day.
Encourage and reward workers when things are going well!
Nothing can make a worker lose morale as quickly as not being recognized when they’re doing an awesome job. So if someone in your team is doing great, make sure they’re recognized for it! From verbal words of affirmation to financial bonuses depending on the accomplishments they’ve had, giving your workers props when they deserve it can go a long way in keeping them encouraged and working hard.
Things you shouldn’t do if you want to build a better workplace
Some common mistakes that can make workers dread going into the office include:
Nobody wants a manager hovering over their desk and telling them how to do their job. This is one of the perks of hiring a great team to begin with: if you selectively hire staff that you know can handle their job, it means less time doing their job and more time working on the team as a whole!
Fostering poor communication.
Poor communication is a recipe for creating resentment and confusion in your company. Make sure that you’re putting systems in place so that all changes, announcements, and important information is relayed as quickly and clearly as possible to all relevant parties.
Not taking care of the office space.
Few things are as depressing and demotivating as walking into a messy, cluttered workspace that doesn’t give you a chance to thrive during your workday. Make it a point to take pride in your office area and keep common areas clean and organized. Again, phone booths like Pillar Booth are also a great idea here since they offer your employees a chance to get away from busier areas and focus on the task at hand and/or conduct private calls without distraction.
Ignoring toxic employees and practices.
A toxic employee with a bad attitude can infect an entire office. It’s important to look out for inappropriate workplace behavior and cut it in the bud whenever you can with good conflict resolution practices, rather than ignoring it and allowing it to fester.
Having unreasonable expectations.
Setting unreasonable and unrealistic expectations for your workers can have a huge negative impact on their stress levels, and it can make them resent their work as a whole. Recognize what tasks and deadlines are doable based on the resources you have, and only assign projects that can be reasonably accomplished.
Not listening and being dismissive.
A telltale sign of a good leader is someone who actively listens to their employees, takes feedback into consideration, and recognizes when good points are being made. Make it a point to take all feedback and communication into consideration and be flexible when need be.
Finally, one of the most obvious mistakes that employers and business owners make is undervaluing and underpaying their staff! Pay a fair wage that truly reflects the work that they are doing.
Unhappy workers are more likely to leave your company, while happy workers are much more likely to be more productive and want to stick around. By spending the time to create a better workplace, you’re setting the tone for a happy team and a successful team.
Photo by Alena Shekhovtcova: https://www.pexels.com/photo/women-on-a-meeting-in-an-office-8067820/