By Roz Andrews
Working in a pleasant environment helps people feel positive and motivated. If employees enjoy their time at work, they will be less likely to take long breaks or go on sick leave. The benefits for business owners include increased productivity and reduced staff turnover, leading to lower recruitment and training costs. Here are some ways to create a pleasant work environment for your employees.
Create a bright, cheerful and inspirational atmosphere by decorating the workplace in light colors. Add artwork or murals to the walls, if appropriate. Purchase good quality ergonomic chairs and desks so that your employees feel comfortable while they are working and the risk of repetitive strain injury is reduced.
2. Rest Area
If space allows, provide an area where your staff can relax during breaks. This area should be separate from the places where people work. Furnish the rest area with chairs, tables, and comfortable sofas. Allow your employees to eat lunch there, and add a rack of magazines for them to read.
3. Food and Drink
Provide a microwave oven, so that employees can heat up food they’ve brought into work. This is especially important if there is nowhere to buy hot food near your workplace. Although installing a drinks vending machine might appear to be a good option, the hot drinks from many vending machines taste awful. It’s therefore a better idea to equip your kitchen with a coffee maker, kettle, mugs, and a good selection of coffee, tea bags, and other drinks.
Invest in a small refrigerator and delegate the task of buying milk every day. Make sure that cleaning the kitchen and refrigerator is part of your cleaner’s responsibilities. Install a water cooler, so your employees can easily remain hydrated throughout the day.
4. Staff Meetings
Monthly meetings for the whole of your workforce can help each member of your team feel that he or she is involved in your business’s development. At these meetings, you could let everyone know about important new clients that your business has won or your plans to launch a new product or enter a new market. Invite your employees to ask questions or offer suggestions on how the business could move forward or improve its processes.
Although it wouldn’t be appropriate to disclose all your plans for the business or let your staff know about certain events or setbacks, staff meetings are important because they foster a sense of belonging to the organization. Employees who don’t know what’s happening can feel shut out, undervalued and demotivated.
5. Flexible Work Hours
Not everyone is suited naturally to the traditional work hours of 9:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Some people are “early birds” while others are “night owls.” Employees may also have responsibilities that sometimes conflict with traditional work hours, such as picking up children from school.
If it is feasible for your business, consider introducing a flexible work hours scheme. One advantage of such a scheme is that your business is likely to be in operation for a longer period each day, perhaps from 6:30 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. This gives your business several advantages over its competitors, such as the ability to respond quickly to clients outside normal work hours.
6. Social Events
Create a sense of community by organizing social events outside work hours. This could be a drink after work on Friday, a Christmas meal at a restaurant or a trip to the bowling alley. Social events allow co-workers to get to know each other better. This can lead to enhanced teamwork and cooperation. However, no one should feel under pressure to take part in social activities and some employees may not be able to attend due to other commitments.
7. Be Approachable
No matter how busy you are, schedule some time each week or each fortnight to walk around your office and chat with everyone. See how each person is and how things are going for them. Take an interest in them as human beings. Show appreciation for their hard work. Employees who feel valued and appreciated will want to remain with your business. While walking around the workplace, look for ways to show everyone that their contribution is valued.
Sometimes simply saying “thank you” is enough. On other occasions, you may decide to reward special efforts with such tokens of appreciation as gift cards or flowers. Staff members who enjoy working for your business will remain in their jobs for many years to come. If they feel valued and appreciated, they will be motivated to work hard and remain loyal to your organization. Take steps to improve the work environment for your employees and watch your business thrive.