Many of us spend a great deal of time at work. If we’re lucky, we enjoy the environment, the organization, and the team dynamic. If you aren’t so lucky, going to work may not be enjoyable. A bad work environment does not have to be permanent, though. Also, good work environments can always be made better. Top companies become the best by creating fool-proof processes. Shaping up a workplace can be good for productivity, streamlining the workload, and employee morale.
Here are some tips that can help improve your workplace for success:
- Offer Fluidity — Workplaces are no longer relegated to only cubicles and conference rooms. Many people are able to do aspects of their work from various locations while still collaborating with all their colleagues. Work hours can be more flexible and employees can benefit from not being tied to a schedule that’s too repetitive. ZipRecruiter sites Google’s “20 percent time” program as a prime example of the ways flexibility can improve a workplace. The 20 percent time effort is meant to allow employees to work on what they want to work on 20 percent of the work day. According to ZipRecruiter, “The company found that it led to their people leveraging their best creative output when they were also allowed to work on their passions.
- Equity — The gender wage gap, along with parental leave, are pretty hot issues as of late. Whether your company is composed 50/50 of men and women or not, the rest of the world looks roughly like that. However, not all companies offer equal pay for equal work. And across the board, satisfying parental leaves are few and far between. In an interview with VentureBeat, Patty McCord, consultant and former Chief Talent Officer at Netflix, notes progressive parental leave policies and “gender equity and participation” as the new workplace trends to look out for in 2016.
- “Progressive Difficulty” — Social psychologist and author of “The Best Place to Work” Ron Friedman, suggests that challenges in the workforce are necessary in order to keep employees captivated. When employees are asked to do repetitive tasks on a day-to-day basis they will likely get very good at said task, but they also run the risk of becoming very bored. In Friedman’s book, he encourages employers to push their employees just beyond their typical comfort level so that they have a goal to shoot for. “It’s when we’re stretching our skills and building our expertise that we are at our most engaged,” says Friedman.
- Create Opportunities for Learning — Similarly to Friedman’s ideas of creating challenges in the workplace, he also suggests creating opportunities for employees to learn new skills or advance current ones while on-the-job. Employees are more likely to feel satisfied if they believe their work is helping make them a more well-rounded person. They will also be appreciative that their company cares enough about their development to offer such incentives. According to Friedman, “Offering a reading budget, encouraging employees to scan industry blogs during the day, and inviting employees to take courses that can help them build their skills are all ways of creating the experience of growth at work.”
- Be Less of a “Boss” and More of a Guide — We’ve all heard that it’s best to “lead by example.” This tip is one frequently utilized by companies that make the “Best Employers” list. ZipRecruiter singles out the app company Asana as one that owes much of its success to relying on non-traditional leaders. The company operates under a normative hierarchy with a management team and those who work under them, but the way they relate with these relationships is different. “In our office, we treat everyone as a peer, with kindness, love and respect,” an Asana representative tells ZipRecruiter.
- Streamlining — Chris Fussell, chief growth officer of The McChrystal Group, cites the book “Simple Rules” in his interview with VentureBeat as providing great reasons why avoiding over-complicating tasks and communication is best for a workplace. “The authors make the very compelling argument that, as the world increases in complexity, we must fight our natural tendency to respond with ever-more complex systems – instead, looking to simplify our organizational structures and guiding principles wherever possible,” said Fussell. He goes on to explain a “Keystone Forum” that he uses at the McChrystal Group — “a large-scale meeting designed to create regular communication between cross-functional stakeholders.” For large companies, it is paramount that communication run smoothly so that all parts of the machine are operating together on the same page. Less confusion means more productivity.
- Unexpected Perks — Frequently, our typical work narrative involves slogging through a 9-to-5, waiting for the clock to tell us we can leave; begging for the day to move faster. But, the best places to work sometimes get that way by being fun places to spend your time. Unique incentives and workplace surprises keep employees on their toes. It promises workers that they don’t have to always expect a “typical” work day, and that can be exciting. Career Attraction says that this tactic is particularly good at engaging millennial employees. Some examples they provide include bi-weekly chair massages, free snack cupboards, and all-expense-paid holiday party, and weekend getaways.
- Create a Comfortable Work Environment — It’s no surprise that workers will feel more inclined to produce their best work if the space they work in doesn’t feel alienating. Business News Daily suggests keeping your workspace well-lit, furnished with comfortable seating, and stocked with small amenities. Comfortable employees are more likely to be the most productive employees; and, also more cheerful. Waking up every morning knowing you’ll walk into the same beige room with metal chairs isn’t likely to inspire love for your job.
- Don’t Contact Employees Off Regular Work Hours — When the flow is right and the gears are turning it can be tempting to take your work home with you. For many employees, however, time away from work is absolutely necessary to their productivity. Do not expect your employees to get excited about work emails when they are home spending time with their families. Feeling pressured to engage in work chat while off the clock can quickly lead to resentment and a feeling of being over-worked. Human Resources, reminds leaders to, “Allow your employees their time off to unwind and unplug from your business and their job. By having time to recharge their batteries, they will come back to work refreshed and motivated to get after it. Don’t expect them to eat, sleep, and breathe their job.”
- Show Employees That You Value and Appreciate Them — Glass Door asks employers, “As you develop a roadmap to make your company a more desirable workplace, consider the following: are you putting a premium on people, are you listening, empowering and leading with a clear vision? Are you appreciating the efforts of your workforce?” Workplace perks aside, sometimes all an employee needs is a sincere “thank you.” Always let your team know they are valued members of your working community. Feeling supported and integral is likely to inspire quality work from all your employees and leave them feeling satisfied.