At some point or other, we’ve all worked in a lacklustre office atmosphere. You know the sort—uncomfortable lunch hours seated in silence, forking listlessly at cold pasta crammed into Tupperware boxes; leaders swooping in only to shoot out reprimands before disappearing again for days at a time; sighs echoing audibly across the office floor while the ferns go unwatered and wilt. We all know what a rubbish workplace looks like. But what makes a great workplace?
Great, of course, is pretty subjective. But there are certain attributes that are shared among successful workplaces—attributes that, if you introduce them to your own work culture, can create a wonderful place to work and help keep your staff feeling happy and focussed. Here’s how to do just that.
What makes a great workplace?
Hire the right people
If you go off CV clout alone, you won’t get the best office atmosphere possible. In order to lead a team that gels, works together well and enjoys one another’s company, it’s important to bear this in mind during the hiring process. Look for traits such as empathy and positivity, as well as degrees and previous experience. Hiring somebody who is extremely qualified but is cantankerous in the workplace can be a drain on the mood of an entire office. Conversely, hiring somebody who is a little green yet brimming with positive energy can give your whole team a daily boost.
Offer competitive pay
Of course, your ability to do this depends on your margins as a company. However, if you have the means to pay your employees more, pay them more. Employees who feel they are being fairly compensated will feel both increasingly loyal to their company, and increasingly responsible for fulfilling their roles. If the pay offered is low, and your employees’ lives outside of the office are difficult as a consequence, it’s going to be pretty difficult to nurture a jolly atmosphere during the working day. So compensate your employees handsomely!
Make sure your team has a solid work/life balance
Sometimes, staying late in the office is a necessity when a large project needs to get over the line. Requiring your staff to stay late every night, however, can lead to burnout, as well as a high staff turnover as people look for pastures new. In order to offer your team a great work/life balance, make sure their holiday requests are approved as often as possible and make room to accommodate for the individual needs of your team members. Life gets messy sometimes, for all of us. Be there for your staff when it counts!
Inform your team of how the company is doing
Keep everybody clued up! If you’re all smashing your targets, make it known, and celebrate together. Company all-hands meetings are great for this, even if it’s just once a month. It’s a perfect time for you to offer insight into how the bigger picture is coming together, which naturally encourages your staff to care about the company. When they’re kept in the loop, it’s far easier for your team to feel part of something bigger, and to develop a sense of camaraderie.
Design an uplifting workspace
We’re not interior designers, unfortunately, so can’t offer much insight into how to give a boost to the feng shui of your office. However, you can always pay somebody else to do it. By designing an uplifting-looking office, you can increase the happiness of your employees on the daily. It’s not exactly rocket science: a drab, spartan office won’t inspire your team, whereas one that’s colourful, spacious and trendy will, both by the pleasantness of the environment itself, and the sense of prestige your team will get from going to work in a great-looking office.
Add a community board
Make a space—somewhere visible—where staff can pin posters and write messages. You’ll see this develop as time goes by. It might begin with a timid memo suggesting a book club on Thursday lunchtimes, but after enough time it will grow busy with yoga classes, team park runs and taco Tuesday gatherings. If you can help your team by providing space onsite for some of these activities, even better. The team spirit will soar—and you will have barely had to lift a finger.
As much as we’d all like to pretend it’s not a big deal, there’s something undeniably disappointing about achieving a huge company milestone and receiving nothing more than a pat on the back. Any acknowledgement is great at boosting company morale and boosting your workplace culture. Pizza for all on a Wednesday afternoon? Fantastic. An early finish and a couple of on-the-house drinks on a Friday? Even better.
‘Employee of the month’ boards may seem a little cheesy, but to many employees the praise truly matters. It can make peoples’ whole week, in fact. When an employee has excelled, be sure to shout it from the rooftops, and show your staff how proud you are of their performance. It’s basic stuff, but seeing a leader take pride in us remains a powerful motivator throughout our lives.
Offer training and development
An aspirational workplace is a happy workplace. People will be far likelier to stick around for the long term if they can sense early on that there’s potential for advancement. If you’re regularly offering training and development to your team, you’ll give them the impression that there’s a clear path ahead of them which, if they continue down, will bring them further successes and a burgeoning career.
The added plus point to offering staff training is that you get a more skilful, talented workforce. This increases the likelihood that you’ll be able to promote internally, which is not only more cost effective, but will keep your team loyal and motivated.
It’s not difficult to nurture a great company atmosphere, however, it’s easy to drive ahead focussed solely on numbers and outcomes, and leave a sour taste in your employee’s mouths in the process. In order to see your business truly flourish, start with the points above. Good luck!