With the labor market being tighter than ever, it has never been more vital to retain good employees and to create an attractive environment for new applicants. Most businesses have taken steps by now to identify and hone their brand image or to review their HR regulations; however, it can be very easy to forget about the environment we have to work in on a daily basis. The office can become just a piece of the background that we too often forget can be easily changed in ways that will improve company morale and worker retention.
Do an inventory of things that need to be fixed or improved: This can include obvious things such as broken light fixtures, ceiling tiles, doors, etc., but these are the bare minimum. Try and think a bit outside of the box with improvements that could be made. Things like updated air filters or a water softener are not very flashy, but they can go a long way in making the work environment feel more like home.
Ask employees what they would like to see changed: No matter how much you think outside of the box, sometimes there is no better way to find out what your employees want than by simply asking them. This is actually a great way to kill two birds with one stone. You can, of course, use the interview to learn what changes employees would like to be made to the office; however, at the same time, you can let employees express changes they would like to see to their workflows, policies, etc.
Increase the comfort level: Many of us have to sit for much of the day at work, and if the way we sit is not comfortable, it can make getting anything done that much more difficult. Admittedly, getting new chairs can be expensive. The top models can easily get into the thousands of dollars. That said, if you think of it as a long-term investment in your human capital, it quickly becomes obvious that this is an investment that pays significant dividends well down the line.
Improve aesthetics: Things like paint color and artwork can quickly fade into our subconscious to the extent to which we no longer think about them. Because of this, it is very easy to forget how much they can have an impact on workers’ mental health and productivity. Re-painting the office and adding new artwork is actually quite an inexpensive upgrade, especially when you consider that this one upgrade improves the environment for everyone in the office all at once. If you want to get an even greater return on your investment, poll employees as to what color schemes and artwork they like. This gives everyone a sense of belonging, ownership, and respect that leads to happier employees and less turnover.
Schedule fun activities: The company picnic has been a go-to way for businesses to try and build a sense of community since time immemorial – and it can still work. The key is to actually make the picnic appealing. While most of us can enjoy ourselves at events like this, most people do not put them so high up on their list of fun activities that they would want to engage in them on their time off. If you schedule events outside of normal work hours, you are not giving back to your employees – you are asking more from them. That said, if you schedule fun activities like bowling, fishing, or picnics during work hours, it can really show employees that they are valued and encourage them to work together better as a team.
No matter how much you love your workplace, there is no guarantee that everyone feels the same way. Especially in today’s business environment, making investments in building a quality workplace is not just something you should do to help build morale, it is an essential business function that will allow you to attract and retain the best talent. Every company is only as successful as their employees are productive. And employees are only as productive as their work environment allows them to be. Take a long-term perspective and invest in a better work environment – you, and your employees, will be glad you did.