You're quite right; a never-ending supply of chocolate would improve most offices. However, on a more practical level, there are some simple things that can help to improve a workplace. From changing the office environment, to offering more employee flexibility, some small changes can improve morale and productivity. Get it right, and you could be among the 47.2 percent of Americans satisfied with their jobs, according to the fall 2011 Nielsen survey.
Working in cramped, noisy or dangerous conditions can make any workplace miserable. Changing an office layout can improve things dramatically. For example, removing high cubicle walls can increase the number of smiling workers and reduce loneliness and isolation. Arranging desks near windows and light spaces makes people feel less penned in. Splashes of color on posters and paintings around the workplace can make the mood brighter -- and there's no harm in having a few fun things around, such as pool tables or beanbags.
It's not just the overall office layout that can affect team morale in the workplace. Paying attention to the small details, such as the design of chairs and desks at your workstation, can lead to big improvements. For example, the Department of Labor suggests that choosing a chair with a backrest, armrests and cushioned seat can make working life a lot more comfortable. Also, putting green plants near your desk makes a working area feel more alive.
Feel like you don't know anything about your colleagues? A lack of team spirit and social contact between employees can lead to a bad work atmosphere. Joe Santana writing in Tech Republic suggests trying things like having weekly seminars hosted by different people from within the company so you get to know more people. Of course, arranging a few social events for your co-workers also helps. Why not go out bowling, set up a company softball team, or just head to the bar for a couple of post-work drinks?
A lack of working flexibility can backfire on office morale. For example, a 2011 study by the Families and Work Institute found that the more flexible an employer, the more satisfied the employees are in their jobs. Allowing workers to put in a few hours a week at home, or letting people come in early and leave early sometimes can improve the workplace in general. If your boss cuts you all a little slack, it might improve productivity for everyone.
- The Conference Board: Workers Less Miserable, But Hardly Happy
- Greatist: 10 Scientifically Proven Ways to Boost Workplace Happiness
- United States Department of Labor: Computer Workstations
- Personell Today: Better Work By Design: The Workplace Environment
- Tech Republic: Creating Supportive, Engaging Work Environment Helps Fight Employee Burnout
- Families and Work Institute: Workplace Flexibility in the United States
Based near London, U.K., Peter Mitchell has been a journalist and copywriter for over eight years. Credits include stories for "The Guardian" and the BBC. Mitchell is an experienced player and coach for basketball and soccer teams, and has written articles on nutrition, health and fitness. He has a First Class Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) from Bristol University.