It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that when someone is happy, they’re more likely to work harder and do more for the people around them. Blame it on the endorphins or the generally uplifted feeling, but happiness is infectious and has a motivating effect on everyone within close proximity.
When you take that statement and adapt it to a workplace scenario, can you see how important it is to ensure your office is a happy one?
Morale is something every high quality manager understands, and they know that in order to be productive and make money as a business, employee engagement and happiness has to come first. Your employees are your biggest asset, and treating them as just a number is not the best way to ensure business growth and success! Of course, that doesn’t mean you should treat your employees well simply because you want to earn money, it means treating them as humans and understanding the vital contribution they make towards your shared goal, as a business family.
This guide is going to run through everything you need to know about ensuring happiness for your employees. Of course, happiness comes from within to a certain extent, and you can’t stop things happening in your employees’ private lives, which may have a direct impact on how well they perform at work. What you can do however, is ensure that what you can control, you control well, by giving them the working environment they want and need and ensuring that they feel supported, listened to, and comfortable during their working hours.
Stress is one of the biggest reasons that businesses lose money. Staff become overwhelmed, morale falls, sickness rises, and lost working days cost the business money. Mistakes are made, customers are affected, and the entire business loses its focus. All of this can be changed simply by creating a culture within the office which supports every single employee, reflecting complete fairness and equality.
To highlight the problem, check out this infographic which outlines the surprisingly high cost of stress to UK businesses.
It’s surprising how many managers aren’t quite sure where to begin when it comes to revolutionising their office space and ensuring a more uplifted and positive feel. Your luck is in however, as this guide is going to show you how.
WHY A HAPPY EMPLOYEE IS A PRODUCTIVE EMPLOYEE
Before we get into practical advice, we need to highlight exactly why a happy employee is beneficial for your business.
In order to explain this properly, think about times when you’ve been very satisfied in your job role. A time when you felt supported, happy, and you didn’t have any qualms about getting up to go to work every morning. Many people struggle to remember such an event, but if you concentrate, you’ll find at least one or two days to reference towards!
The feeling of being content in your work means that you’re happy to challenge yourself on a daily basis. You want to do more, you want to be recognised and you want to help those around you. This is a feeling which pushes you to achieve and reach your own potential, but also one which benefits the business direction too.
A happy employee places importance upon their job role. They see this as extension of their life and therefore they want the business to succeed too. That means they will go the extra mile. They will work that little bit harder, come up with new ideas, and the ironic thing is that happy employees are literally brimming with new ideas and creative solutions to problems!
A business can take advantage of these ideas by actively listening to them and taking them seriously. Who knows, you might find an idea coming your way which could completely change the direction of your business and create a much more profitable outcome! Several heads are far better than one, and when employees are happy and engaged, you’ll have more ideas than you know what to do with!
The space also feels more positive, and that in itself is truly infectious. Everyone will catch on to the uplifted vibe, and soon you’ll notice smiles everywhere you look. This isn’t a stretch or anything unrealistic; everyone has days when they would prefer to stay in bed because they’re tired, and those days don’t count. What we’re talking about here is the will to go to work because you want to and not because you just have to. Happy employees don’t sit and watch the clock, willing it to move faster; they’re amazed at how fast time goes because they’re so engaged with their work!
All of this creates a picture of productivity and that in itself leads towards profitability. The more profitable a business is, fewer mistakes are made, the more work is done, and the more innovation comes out of it. This improves customer relations, attracts new business, attracts new talent to the office space and helps the business to overtake the competition.
There is no downside.
WHAT IS MORALE AND WHAT CONTRIBUTES TO IT?
We’ve just talked about happiness, but what is morale? Is it the same thing?
Yes and no.
Morale incorporates happiness, but it doesn’t just stop there. Morale incorporates motivation, new ideas, a willingness to learn, and a desire to do well. Of course, happiness comes into it, but it’s not all morale is about.
Check out the video below which explores the interesting question of where morale actually comes from.
There are many things which contribute towards morale and most of it is about allowing an employee to feel empowered, valued, and listened to. The main morale contributors are:
- Feeling valued as an employee
- Feeling listened to whenever suggestions and ideas are put forward
- Feeling supported and knowing you can go to your employer and be taken seriously if you have a problem or concern
- A team of supportive and like-minded colleagues
- A varied workload which isn’t too much or too little
- Regular challenges which do not cause stress, but stretch your abilities just enough
- Opportunities to learn and develop via training courses and education
- A comfortable working environment which is inspiring in decor and design, as well as supportive to the body, with the right types of office furniture in place
- Promotion opportunities available and room for progression
- An equal, diverse, and inclusive working environment for all
- Management who treat everyone fairly and don’t delegate work for the sake of it
- Regular social activities which allow colleagues to bond as a team
- A shared aim, e.g. work that you care about
That might seem like a long list, but much of it is common sense and comes down to treating employees as people and not numbers. At the end of the day, everyone wants to be taken seriously and treated as though they’re worth something. Humans have an in-built desire to want to be part of something bigger than themselves, and you can tap into that as an employer by creating a team working environment which is driving towards a common aim.
Many businesses also find that connecting with local charities is a great way to boost morale. This creates a common aim to work towards, e.g. fundraising and events, and gives everyone that feel-good vibe, because you’re working to help out those less fortunate. This is certainly something to look into, because not only are you benefitting the business, but you’re benefitting others too!
The bottom line is that in order to be successful as a business you need to take morale very seriously indeed. A business which has a low level of morale is going to fail eventually, it’s that simple. Employees will care less and less about their job, mistakes will be made due to lack of focus, customers will be impacted and could take their custom to one of your competitors, word will get around and before you know it, you’re losing money. Productivity falls and you’re on the slippery slope towards failure.
That is how vitally important morale is.
WHY MANAGEMENT HAS A HUGE ROLE TO PLAY IN ENSURING EMPLOYEE HAPPINESS
A little later we’re going to cover 10 ways you can ensure employee happiness and you’ll notice that every single one of those methods is initiated and maintained by management.
Poor management is one of the biggest reasons why employees leave a business and move elsewhere. Feeling unsupported and having a total lack of leadership does not lend itself to a particularly happy or supportive environment and one of the single biggest problems in modern businesses is that management doesn’t recognise its role in maintaining its staffing levels.
A poor manager is enough to demotivate an employee, especially someone who may be lacking in confidence and requiring a little leadership or mentoring. In that case, this employee is completely missing out on their potential and the business isn’t going to get the best out of them at any point. The longer the poor management goes on for, the more damage is done. Employees start to turn on each other, conflicts occur, and the entire office space becomes a place that nobody wants to attend.
Whilst a manager can never be ‘one of the gang’, ensuring a certain amount of closeness and approachability is vital. Employees that know their manager’s door is always open if they have a problem are far more likely to approach them if they do have an issue they need to speak about. Its far better to have that scenario than a group of employees who desperately need to speak to their manager but they’re too scared to approach them.
For instance, an employee might be feeling overwhelmed and under too much pressure at work, and they would like to speak to their manager about the stress they’re under. Unfortunately, they don’t feel able to do so because they’re so unavailable and also because they don’t feel they would be taken seriously. This is a culture of fear and it’s not a picture of productivity in the slightest.
Far too many managers place too much importance on decision making and business focus, but they fail to notice that they’re neglecting the number one asset the business has – its employees. As a manager, you need to realise the power your employees hold, and look after them, mirroring their importance in your business picture.
It’s also about how you speak to your employees, in order to motivate them in the right direction. Check out this useful infographic which highlights this issue very well.
Now we’ve outlined in detail the importance of happiness and morale, and we’ve talked about why management has such an important part to play in the whole picture, let’s get practical. We’re now going to talk about 10 different ways you can boost employee happiness, pulling in engagement, morale, and productivity all at the same time.
10 WAYS TO ENSURE A HAPPY WORKFORCE
If you ask someone what makes them happy in the workplace, they’ll probably come up with a myriad of different suggestions, and you’re never going to please everyone 100%. What you can do however is focus on the main areas and ensure you get them right.
We’re going to discuss 10 different ways you can ensure a happy workforce, and it’s a good idea to try and hit all 10 if you can. The good news is that none of these suggestions will cost you a huge amount of cash, and most of them can be implemented straight-away. A lot of it is down to mindset and office culture, and whilst some of these suggestions might take time to actually affect happiness and morale levels, any progress is good progress at the start.
Without further ado, let’s discuss our top 10.
#1 – A COMFORTABLE, SUPPORTIVE, AND ATTRACTIVE OFFICE SPACE
An office which is light, airy, comfortable, bright in decor, and basically something to be proud of is a space which employees will want to attend on a daily basis. If you think about offices you’ve worked in over the course of your career, do any of them stand out for good or bad features?
Dark and small offices drag down morale simply by proxy. The space doesn’t allow for movement, creativity, and the lack of light is downright depressing. On the other hand, a space which is light, has plenty of fresh air and light flowing in and out, and is decorated in colours which stimulate creativity, is a far better option.
It’s not about knocking down walls or moving to a larger space, it’s about doing the best with what you have. Of course, if you have the cash to renovate in a big way, go for it! You’ll quickly recoup the cash through extra productivity profits.
The main points to hit when it comes to creating this ideal workspace are:
- Plentiful natural light, and artificial light choices which aren’t too harsh on the eyes
- As much fresh air flowing into the space as possible, via open windows which aren’t blocked with heavy blinds or stored items
- A suitable temperature, i.e. not too hot and not too cold, with ventilation to ensure everyone feels comfortable
- Office desks which are suitable for the task at hand, e.g. large enough, but not too large, and which make the most of the space you have. This could be corner desks, bench desks, straight desks, anything you like!
- Suitable office chairs for the task your employees will be undertaking. This could mean looking towards ergonomic options to ensure comfort, but also means thinking about other types of seating for different areas
- Easy to use filing systems which don’t cause frustration or waste time. Modern office cupboards which are organised correctly are a must, or digital systems, such as Cloud storage
- A bright and inspiring decor. Colours such as yellow, green, and blue are ideal for creativity, but you could also go down the route of monochrome for a sleek look, provided you ensure enough light is making its way in. Monochrome could look very dark in a small office
- Utilising biophilic elements wherever possible, such as small plants on executive desks and slightly larger plants dotted around the space. These are ideal for purifying the air but also provide stress release and focus boosting too
- Different spaces for different types of work. Many offices are choosing to implement an agile way of working. This means having quiet zones, collaborative zones, break zones, and other areas where specific tasks can be done in a more detailed way. These are very creative spaces and ideal for boosting morale
- Relaxation or break spaces where employees can go when they feel slightly overwhelmed and need five minutes’ to themselves. This should also incorporate easy access to the outdoors, so employees can grab some fresh air when required.
Moving your office around and finding the ideal setting might take time and a little effort, but it’s more than worth it for the results that will come your way. By providing your employees with a comfortable and attractive office space, you’re giving them somewhere they want to attend every day. You’re also going a long way to creating a very positive first impression for visitors into your space too.
#2 – HAVE AN OPEN DOOR POLICY
We’ve touched upon this one a few times already, but it’s certainly one of the best ways to help your staff feel supported and valued.
If a member of staff has a problem with their office workstations or a personal issue at work which is causing them stress and discomfort, they should be able to discuss it with their manager, without feeling like they’re not going to be taken seriously.
Yes, managers are busy with decision making and other management tasks, but that doesn’t mean that there is an excuse for being unavailable for their employees. Nobody is that busy!
An open door policy doesn’t literally mean your door is always wide open, it means that your employees feel confident to knock on your door for a chat when they feel they need to. You’ll probably find that this happens very rarely, especially if you create the right feel in your workplace and improve your morale levels. However, when staff do need to discuss something, they will feel more able to do so. This will ensure that problems are sorted out quickly and effectively, without being left to linger and cause long-lasting, chronic problems.
This also doesn’t mean that you need to reserve a space around the meeting room seating and discuss things in a formal way, it means an informal chat between manager and employer, with the scope to take things further if the issue requires it. At this point, employees simply need to know that they will be listened to, taken seriously, and not pushed away. All of this comes down to treating your employees as human beings!
#3 – FOCUS ON AN EQUAL, INCLUSIVE, AND DIVERSE WORKPLACE
Part and parcel of being taken seriously and not pushed away is about ensuring that everyone is treated equally.
These days we’re extremely aware of equality, diversity, and inclusiveness. We shouldn’t have to be aware of these things, because they should be a given. Everyone should be treated equally anyway, we shouldn’t have to highlight it! Unfortunately, in some areas we need to point this out and it’s important that you asses your workplace to ensure that there are no issues in this regard.
Check out this very useful video which explores this very important issue in a bit more detail.
All of this basically means that regardless of gender, age, sexuality, race, religion, disability, or anything else, everyone is given the same opportunities, heard the same, listened to the same around the boardroom furniture, taken as seriously as everyone else, and treated the same. An equal, diverse, and inclusive workplace is a high morale workplace, and this is something which new talent will look for when deciding whether to work for you or a competition. This is certainly amongst one of the biggest considerations for employees today.
#4 – INCORPORATE A TEAM WORKING ENVIRONMENT
A team working environment is a happier and more productive place to work. Everyone is working together with one aim in mind, everyone feels supported, and nobody is left out or alone. This is a far better situation than having several people working alone, feeling under pressure and struggling to meet deadlines.
Much of this also focuses on collaboration. Collaboration is the key to employee happiness in many ways, because it allows creative ideas to flow. Incorporate some booths in your office space where staff can to go brainstorm and come up with innovative ways to tackle a problem and you’ll find morale is on the rise. In addition, everyone feels that they are a part of something, and not simply going to work for the sake of earning money.
Creating this type of environment simply requires a little broader thinking in terms of office design. For people to be able to collaborate, they need to be able to move around. If you can have a separate space for collaboration, perhaps with a modular office desk which can be moved around as required, this is ideal.
These spaces usually incorporate trendy office furniture to bring more creativity to the fore too, whilst ensuring that those who need to work on quiet tasks aren’t disturbed. This is also part of the agile working model we mentioned earlier.
You should also think about having occasional team building days and exercises, and also organising social events for special occasions. This will go a long way to further ensuring the workplace bond between colleagues, and ensuring that everyone is pulling together in the same direction.
Whilst you can never count out the possibility of an office conflict occurring, having a happy, team working environment makes it far less likely.
#5 – ASK FOR SUGGESTIONS AND TAKE THEM SERIOUSLY
In order to help your staff feel like you’re taking them seriously, you need to ask for their opinions on things which matter and also freely ask for suggestions. By doing this, you’re showing your staff that you care about their views, and that you feel they’re able to change the course of your business with their ideas. This helps them to feel uplifted and part of the biggest picture too.
Of course, you can’t simply ask for opinions and not take them seriously, so ensure that you really listen to any suggestions which come your way. Take them all on board and decide which are feasible, and which aren’t. It’s also a nice touch to talk to your employees when you don’t feel you can move forward with one of their ideas, so they don’t feel like you simply pushed it to one side.
Having weekly or fortnightly catch ups is a great idea for pulling ideas out of the ether. Gather everyone around the office tub chairs and have an informal catch up. Ask for ideas on certain issues and note down all the suggestions that come your way.
#6 – DISCUSS CHANGES, DON’T SIMPLY TELL
When changes are afoot within the business or the office itself, far too many managers simply tell employees what’s going to happen, and don’t think about the impact the changes might have on their morale or their anxiety levels. Rather than telling employees a plan, why not discuss it with them beforehand and see if they have any ideas or suggestions which might be better than the ones you have? Don’t assume you know all the answers!
Before major changes, it’s a good idea to sit everyone down and explain what the problem is, or what the idea is. Explain that nothing has been decided yet and that you’re very open to any ideas they might have. By doing this, you’re cutting down on anxiety and you’re allowing your employees to see that you care about the effect any changes might have on them. It’s far easier to deal with change in the office if everyone knows what is happening every step of the way. No nasty surprises!
These changes could be large or small. It could be something as small as thinking about incorporating active working, with stand height tables, or it could be a complete shake-up of the department. Whatever it is, keep your employees informed.
#7 – FOCUS ON HEATH AND WELLBEING
Healthy employees are happy and productive employees! We mentioned earlier about ensuring a supportive and comfortable working environment and furniture for your employees, but this is the tip of the iceberg. Put together a wellbeing package for your employees, which covers counselling services, smoking cessation help, awareness of healthy eating, perhaps reduced price health insurance or gym access, basically anything which is health-related.
By doing this, you’re showing your employees that you care about them and their wellbeing. You might think that this is a waste of money, but it’s certainly not! Businesses lose a huge amount of money every year through sick days and lost working days. By focusing on health and wellbeing, you’re reducing that cost and ensuring profitability. The overall cost of unhealthy and unhappy workers is always far more than anything you pay to turn the situation around.
#8 – TREAT YOUR EMPLOYEES OCCASIONALLY
Everyone gets a kick out of doing something nice for someone else occasionally and the same goes for managers who do nice things for their employees! Treat your staff occasionally, perhaps with a basket of cupcakes or a round in the local pub after work one day! All of this shows that you appreciate the work they do for you, and as a result, they’re going to feel valued and work harder for you.
This doesn’t have to be a regular thing and it doesn’t have to be anything huge, but a simple gesture every now and again to ensure your staff know that you value them as individuals and not as numbers.
#9 – OFFER TRAINING AND PROGRESSION
As promotion opportunities come up, make sure you fairly offer them amongst your employees and focus on those who can do the job the best, without favouring any other elements. This echoes on the equality point we made earlier.
Having a career progression route available is a good reason for an employee to stay with your business and not to move elsewhere. This ensures that you retain high quality, trained staff, and you don’t have to spend time and money on a lengthy recruitment process.
In addition, be sure to offer regular training for your employees, such as on-site training sessions, off-site sessions, and the possibility of distance learning for employees who request it. Again, this shows that you’re investing in their future, meaning that you value them and their contribution to the business.
#10 – ENSURE THE WORKLOAD IS FAIRLY DISTRIBUTED
The final point, and probably one of the biggest, is to ensure that the workload within the office is shared out equally against your employees, and that nobody is struggling with too much work, tight deadlines and unfair targets.
Having work shared out equally means that everyone is being treated the same, and from there you can assess whether deadlines or targets are possibly a little too tight or unrealistic. Ensuring fairness of work means that nobody is becoming stressed unnecessarily, and nobody feels singled out.
If you do have targets for your employees to meet, also make sure that these are realistic and fair. Sit down around the office tables and discuss these with your employees, getting their view of the work that is done and how quickly it can be performed, to the best quality. Remember, they’re the ones doing it at the end of the day!
And there we have it, 10 ways to ensure that your workforce is a happy one.
There are always going to be times when perhaps one member of staff might be a little less happy than others, but this could equally be about something unrelated to work. Having that open door policy will allow that member of staff to come to you if they feel they need to.
Every single point we’ve mentioned will benefit your workplace immensely, and it’s up to you as a manager to start implementing them straight-away. The beauty is, most of them can be started right now!
The first step is to assess the happiness and morale levels within your space and work out if you have a team of happy or unhappy workers. From there, implement these changes and watch your levels rise!
Article Credit: Calibre-furniture