You may not be aware of your work environment’s key role in your employee’s mental health. Research has shown that employees who are more engaged with their workplace are less likely to experience depression, anxiety, and stress. It’s vital for employers to create an environment where employees feel valued and appreciated.
Unfortunately, not many employers consider how their employees feel when they go to work every day. A comfortable work environment isn’t only beneficial for your employees’ mental health, but it also directly impacts productivity. And you know what this means, productivity relates to an increase in workflow and sales.
So let’s explore what makes up a positive work environment so that you can create one for yourself and your team.
What is a Work Environment?
As the name suggests, a work environment refers to the physical environment where employees work. This pertains to the setting that has unique elements that correspond to the company’s culture and practices.
Some of the characteristics of a work environment are tangible. For example, bright walls, recreational amenities, functional cubicles are some of the components that form a positive work environment.
However, there are also the intangible elements of a comfortable work environment. These are company culture, values, open communication, employee benefits, growth opportunities, and more.
Types of Work Environment
Determine which one of these is currently your work atmosphere:
- Skeptical environment is when questions are encouraged without being judged or reprimanded
- Individual-centric environment allows every employee to work in their way using their methods and flexible work hours
- Team-centric environment is when teams and members share job responsibilities for the benefit of the entire team. In turn, the team is rewarded for a job well done.
- Artistic work environment fosters creativity, crazy ideas, and innovation to forge the business forward
- Mutual-feedback environment is when all forms of communication are welcome to improve employee performance. This includes giving feedback or constructive criticism.
- Fast-paced environment is where constant changes and trends are adapted to improve business operations further.
On the flip side, Entrepreneur classifies some worst work environments to work for. First, there is the rigid work environment where protocols are one-sided, and employees can’t suggest how to make company policies better. Another is the sink-or-swim environment, where there’s no median between success and failure. So you either fail or succeed! Another one is the punitive environment or negative reinforcement where good behavior is neglected, and bad behavior is penalized. Finally, there’s a class-system environment where employees do whatever they’re told and never question their superiors.
The essential thing when creating a healthy work environment is to encourage productivity and boost employee morale. That’s because a hostile work environment impacts the way employees work. In turn, this can decrease their productivity and affect the company’s daily operations.
Additionally, a positive work environment should make employees feel safe and comfortable. Employees must feel excited when coming to the office every single day because the space inspires them. Imagine yourself having to go to a dull, dirty, noisy, uncreative, and unsupportive workplace every day of your life. Not the best thing to wake up to every day, is it?
Elements of a Healthy Work Environment
A healthy work environment should be free from negativity as this hinders employee productivity. The characteristics of a healthy work environment don’t only comprise the interior design. But it also pertains to the elements that are job-specific and elements that contribute to overall employee well-being.
Excellent company culture
Company culture is the most significant part of a work environment. It dictates how employees must act and decide at all times. Some components of company culture are employee code of conduct, which refers to how employees must perform tasks and interact with others.
Company culture also has your mission and vision, which guide employees to align their goals with the company goals. Finally, employee development is also one reason why workers stick with the organization for the long haul.
Fair policies and protocols
When employees feel they are undervalued, it can dampen their morale. Having unfair work policies and protocols such as not rewarding good behavior and penalizing bad ones are some examples. That said, it’s crucial to implement policies that favor both employers and workers.
Management is one of the strongest contributors to the work environment of a company. The management is responsible for how employees are treated, what they do, and how much they are paid. If leadership does not have an inspirational approach to their day-to-day life at work, this will be reflected in those below them on the hierarchy ladder.
A leader with an inspiring approach includes going out of their way each day for even just one employee who may need it most. In addition, compassionate and empathetic leaders will surely help struggling employees bounce back from whatever work issues they have.
Enticing employee benefits
Employees choose companies because of the benefits they offer as well. And incredible employee benefits all relate to collaborative work environments. Some employee benefits include salaries, health insurance, transportation allowance, PTOs, flexible working hours, and more.
People are most comfortable when they’re cooped up in their homes. It’s a safe haven where they can feel at ease and secure. However, you want to achieve the same safety in the workplace. Employees have families and children they come home to every day. And this is why creating a safe work environment is a huge consideration for some.
Open and honest communication
When employees feel that they can express themselves without being reprimanded, they’ll stick around longer. Therefore, cultivate a positive work environment that prioritizes open and honest communication at all times. For instance, create an open-door policy so employees can enter your office whenever they need to talk to you about something.
Also, give feedback when necessary to let employees know their areas for improvement. Additionally, involve employees in the decision-making process. Ask for their opinions and always try to listen without judging.
Jumping ship is such a tedious and time-consuming process. And one of the reasons why workers jump ship is because of a dead-end in job roles. More often than not, employees would want to hone their skills and aim for promotions. That said, offer regular training programs and evaluations to assess employees’ progress.
Perpetual support and positive reinforcement
A toxic work environment is one with destructible competition amongst its members. An example is the Silo mentality, which refers to restricting sharing of information to other departments due to competition. A positive work atmosphere should be all about supporting one another for a more efficient work process.
Also, positive reinforcement motivates employees to improve their behavior. It refers to rewarding positive or good behavior with simple bonuses, vouchers, or even gym subscriptions.
Good work-life balance
Your employees’ mental and physical health must be two of the essential factors in an inspiring work environment. To achieve a stable and healthy mind and body, instill the importance of good work-life balance.
Why a Positive Work Environment is Important
A huge part of an ideal work environment is company culture. That said, company culture is also a deciding factor for applicants before sending in their resumes. In fact, 77 percent of job seekers research the company culture before applying for the position. On the other hand, 90 percent of recruiters rejected applicants because they weren’t a good fit for the company.
Overall, the type of environment a business has also defines the kinds of employees they hire. Over time, this will give employees an inclination towards the organization they’re part of. In time, they associate themselves as part of a team instead of being an employee in a company.
On top of that, here are some reasons why it’s important to have a positive work environment:
- It builds loyalty and trust when you make employees feel safe and comfortable
- Employees engage more in a comfortable workplace
- A healthy work environment motivates employees, increasing employee satisfaction
- Employees are more willing to contribute to the company by being more productive
- Workers will have accountability for their actions and mistakes because they know there’s always support in the workplace
- It makes for a seamless workflow because of open and honest communication
- It prevents more errors and more time for improvement
- Fosters communication between employees and teams from various departments
- Decreases employee turnover rate, allowing you to keep high-flyers in your organization
- Provides more learning and growth opportunities without fear of being judged
- Contributes to stable mental health that prevents workplace violence, issues, misunderstandings, and chaos
- Encourages employees to stay physically fit to go about their day-to-day tasks
- Promotes a good work-life balance for all hardworking supervisors and subordinates, keeping all employees happy and content
15 Ways to Create a Positive Work Atmosphere
Remember, your employees are what keep your business going. Conversely, tired, bored, demotivated, and unproductive employees impact your company’s bottom line. So here are 15 simple ways to create a comfortable work environment.
1. Maintain cleanliness
No one wants to work in a dirty space. According to a survey, our brain prefers order, and clutter affects our cognitive resources. Hence, preventing us from focusing. Aside from removing clutter in the office, here are other ways you can maintain a clean space:
- Fix or replace broken tools and equipment
- Replace broken door knobs or flickering light bulbs
- Make sure the air conditioner is working properly with the right temperature
- Hire someone to clean and maintain the bathroom at all times
- Keep floors clean by mopping every day
- Hang air-fresheners all around the office
- Make sure common areas like the pantry or lobby are well-kept
- Take unwanted stuff out of nooks and crannies
- Segregate your garbage
2. Build an inspiring company culture
When you emanate an inspiring company culture, your organization will run as you have desired. Employees will act and decide according to the values the company has. Small Giants boiled down an excellent company culture into 10 elements and called it the “10 Cs of Culture.” Make sure you practice these:
- Core values
- Commitment to learning
3. Invite natural light
Design your office space in a way that invites more natural lighting. However, make sure to keep your office lighting conducive for an efficient workplace. Experts say that natural lighting boosts health. Moreover, employees who are exposed to natural lighting have a better life quality than those who aren’t.
4. Well-designed workspace
A bad office design is also detrimental to employee productivity, depending on what your brand personality is. And this is why some companies consider office branding incredibly when it comes to designing the workspace. Office branding is how the space is designed that reflects your company culture or personality.
Take, for example, Google, and how the fun brand empowers employees through creative office branding. Check out this Google head office located in Mexico. It’s quirky, bright, and welcoming, akin to Google’s branding.
5. Promote wellness
Illnesses, depression, stress, and low morale are a few reasons why employees have high absenteeism rates. To ensure that your employees are physically and mentally healthy, promote wellness in the office. Here’s how:
- Serve healthy food and drinks at the pantry
- Allow them to stretch or meditate
- Encourage exercise by providing treadmills or other workout equipment
- Let employees take their breaks as often as they need
- Offer counseling services
- Discourage employees from smoking
- Invest in ergonomic furniture
6. Leverage technology
Imagine working a nine-to-five with a slow computer while doing the rest of the tasks manually. This will take up too much of your employees’ time. However, the dawn of technology has opened up ways to make workflow and processes seamless and efficient.
Tech advancements in the workplace such as cloud computing, AI, 5G, or machine learning are a few ways you can improve the work process.
7. Create quiet rooms
Some employees deal with work or stress in various ways. While some prefer to jog or eat it out, some deal with work stress by napping or being in a place of solitude. And this is why you must provide quiet rooms for your employees. These rooms are excellent if employees want to nap during their break or want peace and quiet to allow them to think.
Aside from nap rooms, you should also provide concentration rooms where employees can spend their time working on challenging projects. Some employees may need higher concentration on some projects, and working in their cubicles might be a distraction due to the noise. Quiet rooms that offer various purposes are excellent to allow employees to de-stress or refresh their minds.
8. Create recreational rooms
Another way employees can break from their hectic routine is to have a little fun while working. For example, you can provide a recreational room, with ping pong tables, darts, foosball, arcade games, video game consoles, and whatnot.
Providing these amenities should keep your work atmosphere lighthearted and fun. Plus, this promotes camaraderie and teamwork in the workplace. The only downside is if they spend too much time in these rooms. That said, implement a proper schedule for having fun and grinding it out.
9. Implement collaborative language systems
The collaborative language system originated in traditional collaborative therapy. This is when clients and therapists communicate and work together by using their knowledge to understand the issue. This system is based on collaboration and the sense of “togetherness.”
Instead of saying, “you must try to complete the task today,” you can say, “we must try to complete the task today.” Trust me, little things like this will make your employees appreciate you even more.
10. Organize fun get-togethers
Keep your employee connections even outside the office walls. Try to organize some fun activities or team get-togethers to get to know employees on a deeper level. You don’t have to get personal with them, but knowing what they’re into outside the offices fosters connection.
Don’t mandate employees to attend demanding team retreats. Instead, keep it light and fun by going out for a few drinks during the weekend or spending lunch together with the team.
11. Embrace diversity
If you want more innovation and creativity in your company, embrace diversity and inclusivity. A diverse work culture seems to fit in this modern-day world. In fact, more and more businesses are considering diversity as one of the top systems to follow.
Welcoming diversity will not only attract like-minded and talented individuals. However, it also brings more fresh, creative, and innovative ideas to the table.
12. Offer growth opportunities
Did you know that 94 percent of employees stay in an organization if it provides them room to learn and grow? When you offer opportunities for growth and learning, this motivates employees to go the extra mile all the time in the hopes of earning extra brownie points.
Offering growth opportunities will also motivate ambitious workers who want nothing more than to climb the corporate ladder through hard work and determination.
13. Offer enticing benefits
One of the reasons why applicants choose a company over others is due to the benefits it offers. Aside from providing the usual health insurance and dental benefits, expand your creativity and offer more exciting ones.
For instance, you can offer free gym subscriptions to ensure employees stay healthy. Or you can partner with cafes or restaurants and offer employees a discount whenever they dine in affiliate restaurants.
Better yet, give your employees an unlimited number of days off. Some output-based companies rely on getting the work done and not how many days employees have to churn in. What works for some might not work for others, so try to experiment on what keeps your employees going day in and day out.
14. Limit meetings
Although meetings are essential for collaboration, innovation, and creativity, excessive meetings aren’t fun anymore. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never enjoyed having too many meetings. Excessive meetings are a waste of time. Time that can be spent on solo work, which equals collaboration, innovation, and creativity.
Hold scrum meetings if you have to. Scrum meetings are quick 15-minute meetings to communicate, inspect, and adapt to the current process and operations.
15. Encourage good work-life balance
Never try to squeeze all the energy and hardwork out of your employees nor overload them with too many tasks. YOUR EMPLOYEES AREN’T ROBOTS! If you give them as many tasks as they can handle, this will lead to burnout. Always be realistic about how much work your employees can manage.
If you have to give them more tasks, make sure that they’re well-compensated for it. Offering pay increases, promotions, valuing their time, and commending them for a job well done are a few ways to retain them without lowering their morale.
Creating a positive work environment is the key to company success. Recognizing and rewarding employees, providing a safe work environment, and maintaining positive relationships with employees are some things that will help you create a comfortable work environment. Treat your employees as your most significant business assets, and you’ll have longer and more fruitful employee relationships that fuel your business daily.