It’s early Monday morning and another weekend is over. Time to return to work. So do you jump out of bed, looking forward to catching up with your colleagues and having a great day in your workplace? Or do you hit the ‘snooze’ button on your alarm and hide under the duvet, putting off the inevitable trudge to a job that neither to motivates nor appears to value your efforts?
A commonly heard comment among employees is that they are ‘over-worked and underpaid’ but studies show that financial incentives in terms of pay increases or bonuses have a limited effect in improving employee morale and productivity. The creation and maintenance of a positive office environment is far more important to establishing sustained workplace productivity than short-term rewards. Why? It’s because, as employees, we like to feel good about our jobs. We like to feel that we are valued by our employers and that the contributions we make each day really do make a difference. And we like to work in an environment that supports and encourages these positive feelings. These are the attitudes that drive motivation and increase productivity, hence another popular expression: “a happy workforce is a productive workforce”.
But there is more to creating a positive office environment that reinforcing particular behaviours and attitudes. The physical attributes of the workplace can have a huge bearing on employee morale, motivation and productivity. Who, for example, wants to work in an office that is dirty, strewn with clutter, lacking sufficient natural light or in need of redecoration? Consider the way in which a work environment is furnished. Are desks appropriately sized and laid out? Is there enough available space for employees to move about freely? Are chairs comfortable and adjustable according to the user? Not only is uncomfortable or impractical furniture detrimental to workplace productivity it can also negatively affect an employee’s personal health.
The importance of providing a positive office environment to employee satisfaction and loyalty, business reputation, productivity and, therefore, profit should not be underestimated.
How to create a positive office environment and increase workplace productivity
In order to create a positive office environment attention needs to be paid both to the physical aspects of the workplace and to the behaviours and attitudes of managers and employees. Here are some of the steps that can be taken to create a positive office environment that naturally encourages workplace productivity:
Invest in improving the physical workspace
A positive office environment should be clean and clutter-free, safe, bright and cheerful. Natural light is mood enhancing, and ensuring adequate ventilation and the correct room temperature can alleviate drowsiness and improve concentration. Furniture should be practical, comfortable and ergonomic in order to minimise fatigue and stress and every employee should have their own allocation of personal space within which to work. The introduction of appropriate pictures and plants can also positively affect the ambience of a workplace.
Demonstrate that each employee is valued by the business
Employees should be encouraged to share their ideas, their opinions should be listened to and considered. Communication should be open at every level of the company structure. Inclusion is fundamental to an employee’s feelings of security, job satisfaction and worth. Giving praise in acknowledgement of a job well done, whether to a team or an individual reinforces the fact that they are making a beneficial contribution to the business, and fosters a positive outlook.
Pairing employees or creating teams to share the workload on projects can not only increase productivity as a result of pooling creativity but, handled and rewarded appropriately, can introduce an element of friendly competition and team spirit which contribute to a positive office environment.
Don’t exclude fun from the workplace
Of course, the primary objective of a workplace is to facilitate work but in any job there are times when it is appropriate or even necessary to let off a little steam. Whether it’s to celebrate the winning of a contract, a special occasion, a company anniversary or the last day before a public holiday, allowing a little fun in the workplace from time to time boosts morale, shows employees that they are valued, opens informal channels of communication at all levels and greatly enhances a positive attitude towards the workplace.
John is a feature writer from Anyjunk – a man and van firm spcialising in office clearances