Office life can have its ups and downs; for every Friday feeling there’s a Monday malaise, and for every productive meeting there’s an equally frustrating one where nothing is resolved. But if that negative feeling is starting to drag on over time, there’s a chance your colleagues and employees are suffering from low morale.
The effects of a long-term drop in productivity as the result of grumbling employees are staggering. A recent Gallup poll suggests that there are 1.5 disengaged workers for every one that is engaged, and estimates that eliminating active disengagement from the company could add as much as £70 billion in value to the entire UK workforce in a year.
Though the issue could be symptomatic of a larger-scale problem, it’s worth considering the effect that the office environment has on employee morale, and taking steps to address any potential difficulties. If conditions are cramped or the place feels too sterile, it could be worth livening up the environment in order to produce better results.
If you can make positive changes to the following elements of office life, you could soon reap the benefits of a workforce that’s refocused and raring to go.
Our bodies need a certain amount of natural light every day in order to keep them happy. Being under harsh office lights in a windowless office – in the dark of midwinter – is many people’s idea of hell.
When we don’t receive visual or other sensory cues to let our internal clocks know what time of day it is, it can easily confuse our senses. And this is not just during the day either – studies show that our sleep is affected by this confusion during the night.
If there’s a way that you can coax the sunshine into your office, then all the better. But if not, there are lighting solutions such as Full Spectrum Lights, which would replace the unnatural lights in the office. They simulate natural light more closely than other lights, which can have a real effect on the general mood in the office.
We wouldn’t suggest going full-on camouflage with the office décor, but an Australian study found an interesting way to make for a happier office.
According to the research undertaken at the University of Queensland increasing the number of plants in the office helped boost office productivity by 15%. Professor Alex Haslam found that by putting more plants in the office, everyone becomes “more physically, mentally and emotionally involved in their work”.
Professor Haslam also commented on the recent minimalist trend within the workplace, challenging the feeling that less is more and touting the benefits of adding a touch of green to the office.
What you’re able to add to your office is a matter of space and budget – from cacti on every desk to a full-on display in reception – but a visibly large delegation of plant landscaping in the office could raise everyone’s spirits.
Break out areas
When the workload is heavy and deadlines are looming, many employees will feel chained to their desks without any hope of respite, even during their lunch hour.
Simply disengaging two or three times a day – even briefly – can help recharge the batteries, and any business which invests in providing the facilities to help the process along will be an attractive prospect not just to existing staff, but other hopeful employees too. Your break room should be just that – a ‘break’ from the rest of the office, with design and furniture that makes it stand out.
Ensure that your employees have access to as much tea and coffee as they would like, as it helps them stay fresh and alert. Perhaps it’s also worth considering placing a few games in there; a pool or foosball table encourages conversation – not to mention, some friendly competition – between employees, and can be a great centre of social activity.
Speaking of social activity, don’t forget the water-cooler!
Most importantly of all, your colleagues need to feel comfortable at their workstation. There isn’t enough greenery and coffee in the world to keep employees happy if their own chairs are too rigid. Consider comfort over economy – office chairs are one of the most important features of any office given the amount of time you’ll spend sitting in them.
With medical studies touting the benefits of escaping your office chair, the standing desk has become something of a trend. Using a standing desk keeps you literally on your toes, and has been linked to increased focus because it keeps the blood flowing. If you’d prefer, you could even invest in an adjustable computer workstation – to easily split the day between standing and sitting.
When morale is down, the company suffers on more than just its profits – but improving conditions in one or more of the above areas could see dramatic improvement in company productivity and would at the very least make for a happier, healthier