Companies in Silicon Valley offered employees a different twist on office life. The most influential businesses in the world like Google, Apple, Cisco Systems, and Facebook created an office culture that many wanted to follow.
These high-tech players have extended their outreach to encourage other companies to create a more inviting play to work. Not including the flexible work schedules, this laid-back atmosphere is seemingly working. Foosball, beanbag chairs, coffee bars and even nap areas are becoming the norm for tech-giant.
Googleplex made the news for its outside-the-box offices. They don't call it campus for nothing. People ride company provided bikes to get to conference rooms and meetings. A food station no more than 150 feet away, and the company offers three meals a day for workers. They even have a Chief Cultural Officer to make sure employees are happy.
Not all places can offer this lifestyle at work, but there are actions to take to provide a happier work culture with just simple measures. There are ways to keep people happy beyond giving them a raise. Here are practical tips to design a happier office culture.
Get rid of the open office.
Many of the start-ups fed into the open office design, which gained popularity over the last decade. The idea was to take down communication barriers like walls and cubical partitions to help foster better collaboration, and to boost creativity. Research has shown that it is counterproductive, distracting, and found that employees used more sick days than before. It was also found to be damaging to the morale of workers, hurting psychological privacy, and curtailing job performance. It simply does not work, the Academy of Management Journal found. People eating potent foods in their space can be nauseating to their neighbor, people getting others sick, and being on top of each other is a recipe for an unproductive person. Furthermore, more people have their ear buds on anyway to block out the distractions, so how productive is this anyway? The new trend is offering a hybrid of privacy for workers, and open areas to collaborate.
Let go of toxic people.
There are always toxic people in any organization. Gossiping is pretty normal at any office, but it can become damaging to the point good employees leave. There is the bully, who never grew out of high school, and the person that slacks off by watching television shows online all day. No one is perfect. Everybody has their own baggage to deal with, but after a while, it can poison the organization. Companies lose up 136 billion a year on employees’ unauthorized internet activity. Gossiping is part of 65 percent of conversations, and 96 percent of people have experienced work place bullying, Entrepreneur reported.
Have an open-door policy.
Being open with employees and allowing them the freedom to be honest with you makes for a happier environment. If they fear that there will be repercussions, they will just “yes” you to make it better. This does not work as creativity and ideas that would help business could be quenched. You might be surprised what they might say if you foster an open communication policy. Also, talk your people. There is nothing worse than an employee feeling that there is no communication, unless it is an assigned job task.
Emphasis on wellness.
If possible create a gym at the office. Pay for gym memberships, for group swim classes, aerobics, and other offerings to foster a healthier worker. Sometimes insurance companies offer discounts to employers who participate in wellness programs. Healthy employees handle stress better, and are more productive.
"For $10,000, a company can build a full-fitness facility in an unused office space. A cost-effective way for companies to do this is pay for the cost of facility and employees pay for the classes," The Toronto Star shared. Encourage staff to take a walk, or offer a room where they could do stretches, or yoga. Think outside-the-box, as the conventional office is a dinosaur and the younger generations will leave.
A trusted employee does not need to be babysat. Unless it is conflicting with a meeting and damaging productivity, allow people to have some flexibility with their schedules. If you don't they will start looking elsewhere so they can keep up with the demands of work life and their personal life. If people feel trusted, for the most part they will not let you down. The days of a 9-5 schedule is being scaled back by many companies, and considered a relic. If this can't be done allow to have a flexible Friday where employees can leave early or work from home. You will learn soon enough who can and who cannot be trusted with the responsibility.
Give people a voice.If decisions are being made, include employees in the decision making. This can be how to improve things at the office, what is working and not working, and how to positively move forward with the respective decisions. It is not feasible to have them chime in on everything, but making them feel more involved in the process is healthy, and can be beneficial. "Engaged workers have more innovative ideas that may steer your company to a better direction. The important thing here is to be open to those ideas. As a leader, you may feel that you know what's best for your company, but more often than not, you are stuck in your way of thinking," Biz Journal reported.
Add natural lighting.Natural light is not only inviting and creates a warm environment--it makes a better employee for the office. Research has found that when workers receive more natural light from windows they are more productive, felt happier and were less stressed. Those who did not receive enough natural light during the day reported sleep disturbances, more anxiety, and fatigue. This might not be an option, but adding soft lighting within the office can also work to help workers feel more relaxed.
Offer tuition reimbursement.
To attract top talent and keep them, offer people tuition reimbursement. By offering this, the business can benefit from new skills and resources. If paying a full tuition is not plausible, offer a program to pay for workshops or for employees to become certified in certain computer software, social media, or anything that relates to the job. It is good to invest in the people that have proven themselves to be reliable and good employees.
Not all the suggestions work for everyone and all companies. However, by being invested in your people, you can protect the organization from common problems. By creating a healthy work environment, monitoring potential toxic people, and fostering open communication an organization can flourish. Without solid people the product or the vision of the business owner would falter. Every company is different when it comes to a harmonious work environment, but be assured if the time is taken to care of employees, they will in turn protect the business, and make it a success.