You walk into the grocery store with $100 in your pocket, more than enough to pay for everything you need and then some. But what happens when only $33 of your $100 has any real value? What if $51 has a completely neutral value, and $16 actually creates a negative value? What happens when the total for your groceries is $45? You had enough to pay when you walked in, or so you thought…
A recent gallup poll revealed that only 33% of workers are actively engaged in their jobs, meaning they are “involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and workplace.”
33% is a troublingly low percentage of engaged workforce, but even more staggering is the 51% of employees who are not engaged and haven’t been for some time. They’re indifferent and neither like nor dislike their job. This can be a huge detriment to the future success of your product and business.
If the problem is employee engagement, what is the solution?
Several factors work to create an engaged workforce including leadership, personal development opportunities, and recognition. Many of these factors will take time (as they should) to review, assess, and alter for better engagement, but there are a few small, actionable steps you can make to the physical environment of the workplace to improve engagement, happiness, and productivity.
Changing the physical workplace can be a simple, extremely effective, and easy to execute option to maximize the value of each employee.
1. Open it Up
Consider opening up your employees’ workspace. Employees who hammer away inside a cubicle all day run the risk of losing focus and developing feelings of displeasure toward their workplace. The risk can be mitigated by giving employees options to move around the office and work freely and collaborate.
You don’t have to create an open office floor plan to make this happen. Simply allowing for areas where employees can move around, collaborate, and work can increase engagement.
Add couches to a lounge area with a table and whiteboard. Convert an unused conference room into a collaborative workspace. Knock down some cubicle walls to create work clusters.
Employees who say they can move around to different areas while working are 1.3x more likely to be engaged than other employees, and employees who say they have space to collaborate and connect with co-workers are 1.5x more likely to be engaged.
Don’t go knocking down all those walls in favor of an open, flat office space just yet. Some employees still want their privacy for certain aspects of their jobs. Employees who report having the privacy they need when they need it are 1.7x more likely to be engaged.
Create areas for free work and collaboration, but make sure to maintain places for employees to sit down and focus in a quiet, distraction free environment as well.
2. Light It Up
Employees are up and moving around now, they have privacy when they need it and collaboration is helping to keep them engaged. Yet other negative metrics still need improving. Absenteeism is a killer to businesses. Often sick and tired employees don’t come in to work, or if they do they are unproductive and disengaged, and possibly a distraction. A step as simple as creating more lighting within the workplace can alleviate a lot of these issues.
Low light as been shown to cause eye strain as employees attempt to read and write at their desks all day. This can lead to headaches, migraines, and, eventually, to unhappy, unproductive workers who miss work more often. Exposure to natural light can result in happier workers, less illness, and a present workforce.
Maybe you can’t renovate the whole office to include more natural lighting, but you can allow for more breaks and encourage employees to go for a walk, or take lunch outside. More exposure to natural light leads to increased satisfaction among workers, thus increasing productivity.
3. Keep It Healthy
On the subject of health, it is no secret that healthy humans are more productive, happy, and energetic. You can begin to glean the benefits of these improvements by encouraging healthy eating in the workplace.
Sure–for some, free donuts in the breakroom every morning are quite the treat, but a single donut in the morning causes a spike in blood sugar and insulin levels that can leave employees sluggish and make them feel hungrier only a few hours later, which becomes distracting.
You don’t have to ban donuts, but give your workers healthier options. Stock the fridge with healthy, tasty snacks. Keep fruit and nuts in the break room. The occasional protein or energy bar won’t hurt either.
The simple act of showing you care about an employee’s well being can result in increased performance, not to mention the productivity increase from a healthy workforce. When workers feel like their supervisor, manager, or boss care about them as a person reductions in absenteeism can rise 41%.
4. Make It Flexible
The biggest, cheapest, and easiest modification you can make to the physical workspace of your employees is to allow them to choose their workplace, and offer flexibility as to when they occupy that space.
Employees want more control over when, where, and how they work. Allowing for telecommuting, remote work, and flexscheduling leads to increased productivity.
” 53% of employees say a role that allows them to have a greater work-life balance is ‘very important’ to them when considering whether or not to take a job.”
Unless your business hours are fixed and require an employee’s attendance the entire time, like in the restaurant industry, consider allowing employees to work when they want to. 51% of employees say they would change jobs for one that offered flextime.
Don’t worry about a decrease in productivity, either. Employees who work remotely 60-80% of the time have been shown to be more engaged than their full-time counterparts, while employees who work remotely 100% of the time on average show the same engagement as employees who work 100% of the time in-office.
If your employees are happier, just as engaged, and more productive with the flexibility to work from home or on their own time, this is an easy adjustment for businesses’ to make with most employees.
5. Better Work Environment for the Best Work Outcomes
When you have $100 in your pocket you want your cash to be worth, well, $100. The same goes for your employees’ worth. If you want to be successful, you want to maximize the value of each employee by keeping them engaged and happy. If there are simple options to make this outcome a reality, why not explore a few?
Creating a productive work environment and ensuring your employees are engaged with their work and the organization is key to sustained success. Companies with the highest engagement among employees have 59% less turnover, 21% higher profitability, and 17% higher productivity.
Besides these simple changes to the physical work environment, the most important factor to employee engagement and happiness is the company’s culture. Organizations should constantly work to establish, improve, and maintain a company culture that promotes openness, communication, and engagement. However, these easy to implement changes to the physical work environment can produce similar effects on a smaller scale and can be done in a cost-effective, timely manner.
The best companies offer complimentary physical workspaces that promote productivity while also creating a culture that enhances the lives of their employees, maximizing the value and worth of each employee which in turn maximizes the value of your company.