For most forward-thinking organisations, employee health and wellbeing is at the forefront of their development. According to a study taken out by Warwick University, happy, healthy employees not only work harder, they’re also much more productive and motivated than those who are less cheery. Additionally, when your staff are happy, workplace absence is reduced, creativity is increased, and people are less likely to move on to pastures new, which can save your business a lot of time, money and energy in the long run.
So, the big question is: what can you do to cultivate a happy workforce?
To start, you could simply make a few small changes to your work environment. When Google designed its London headquarters, it did so with staff health and happiness in mind.
The outcome was a fun environment with an emphasis on comfort, relaxation and efficiency. It included plush sofas, rocking chairs, rooftop gardens, ping pong tables and, amazingly, an allotment where employees can grow their own herbs and veggies!
Of course, we don’t all have Google’s budget (or the time to be distracted by ping pong and healthy vegetable growth!), but there are still plenty of ways to make positive changes to your office without having to go to the extreme. From revamping the furniture to adding greenery, here are our top tips for creating a happy workplace for a happier, healthier workforce.
Offer a change of scenery
According to research, the quality of scenery in our daily environment can directly impact personal wellbeing. As people spend the majority of their day at work, it’s important to offer a pleasant environment to help employees feel good.And while we can’t always promise a tranquil window scene that’s overflowing with nature, we can control the scenery within the office.
Layout can play a huge part in producing a pleasant atmosphere. If you can, arrange the room so that it offers a variety of viewpoints, whether that be near a window or close to something that isn’t a computer screen, such as a piece of art or a wall mural.
Creating a focal point where your employees can look to readjust their eyes after staring at a screen can also help to reduce tiredness, eye strain and headaches.
Another easy way to brighten up the scenery is to give your walls a facelift. A fresh lick of paint can make a world of difference, and often, the colour you choose can impact how your employees feel throughout the day.
Blues are known to be calming and offer a sense of security, which is why it’s often used as a brand colour for banks and trusted corporations.
Green will help employees feel relaxed and motivated to do good work. It also promotes wellbeing and restoration, which is great for when things get a little stressful.
Yellow is most associated with optimism and creativity, while red gives off a sense of urgency and mental stimulation.
Pack some plant power
Not only do plants look pretty, but scientists at the University of Exeter found that adding them the workplace increases wellbeing by 47%, creativity by 45% and productivity by 38%. They also heighten brain activity, boost memory retention and lower stress levels too.
As a species, we instinctively crave natural environments so it’s no surprise that adding greenery to the office will help to make employees feel good. Opt for plants that are known for their air-filtering qualities. Spider plants, peace lilies, parlour palms and Boston ferns are all ideal choices, plus they’re easy to care for too.
Embrace lines and curves
Here at Blueprint, we’re big believers that furniture needs to be both functional and comfortable. But to make people feel even happier, it also helps to add a few curves.
Neuroscientist Oshin Vartanian ran a study to test people’s reactions to interiors. The result was that people largely favoured curved furniture over pieces with straight edges. MRI scans revealed that curvy contours worked to stimulate the pleasure centres of the brain, making subjects instantly happier.
Another study from Oregon State University found that curves make people feel more excited and more relaxed. So, if you’re looking to boost the mood of your staff, go with comfortable, curved furniture. You can’t argue with science.
Let there be light
There’s a reason why one in three people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in winter. Light plays a huge role in boosting our happiness and quality of life. It can lift morale, increase our energy levels and relieve stress.
According to one study, employees who sit near a window get an average of 46 more minutes of sleep per night than those who don’t, which in turn, helped them perform better at work. A well-lit office can transform the working environment and improve the overall mood of your staff. Natural light is preferable as it helps to refresh people, while being better for the eyes. But if natural light is sparse in your workplace, desk lamps or light fixtures will do the trick.
Make space for collaboration
One of the best ways to bring about happiness in the workplace is to encourage collaboration and social gatherings. An easy way to make this happen is to provide a comfortable space where employees can go to either take a break or work on collaborative projects.
Innocent Drinks recently employed a policy where staff can ‘hot desk’ to sit wherever they want every day. This worked to stop employees feeling tied to their desks, which can make them become stale and uninspired after a while. The freedom to roam can bring about huge benefits. If people are able to work where they most feel comfortable, they’re more likely to produce better, more creative work thanks to a fresh perspective and a change of scenery.
Another great idea to encourage a sense of community is to arrange your desks into islands rather than rows. This helps to promote a natural flow of conversation, making employees feel more relaxed and more motivated to work together and bond as a team.
Of course, cultivating happiness within the workplace shouldn’t end at revamping the office. It should also be about creating the right work culture, every day.Here are our top tips to help you achieve this:
Hire the right people
Think about your company values and hire people who embody these. Positive, passionate people will not only help to drive your business forward, but will also help to draw in more positive, passionate people. As the kids say, your vibe attracts your tribe!
Deliver regular praise and recognition
Employees who feel underappreciated will leave. It’s actually one of the most prominent reasons for people handing in their notice. To ensure this doesn’t happen, take time to recognise your staff’s hard work, even if it’s just to say, ‘well done’ or ‘thank you’. Trust us, it will go a long way.
Ensure that work is fulfilling
People like to feel as though they’re contributing to something bigger, that their work matters. Show your employees that they’re important to the company, even if their role is small. Better yet, get the business involved with some local charity work. Not only is it for a good cause, but it can also help to motivate your employees and make them feel proud to be a part of your organisation.
Offer great perks
No, we’re not talking pay. While a pay rise can certainly give employees a boost, it’s actually the perks that employees value more, according to a Glassdoor survey. This is especially true of millennial workers, who place significance on the likes of health and wellbeing programs, child care and generous holiday packages.
As we mentioned wellbeing, a great way to encourage happiness and healthiness in the workplace is to become a business that puts wellness first. You could offer weekly yoga classes, staff discounts on gym memberships, fitness challenges or healthy snacks throughout the week. You could even make it mandatory for your staff to take regular breaks throughout the day to walk around the building. The combination of fresh air and exercise makes for great mental stimulation.
It’s vital that your staff feel trusted to do their jobs. Unless you have a proven reason not to, show them that you’re confident in their abilities by offering them incentives for great work. If it’s possible, allow them to work from home when they need to, or give them space in the office to sit where they feel most comfortable. Better yet, offer them flexible holidays or the option to take their birthdays off. Employees will be much happier, much more likely to stay, and much more willing to work hard and hit goals if they feel you trust them and value their work.
So, there you have it, everything you need to create a happy, healthy environment for your staff. Don’t forget, a happy workplace will attract good people, and good people will work together to push your business to new heights
Need help with revamping your workspace?
Get in touch with our team today to discuss how we can help you rejuvenate your space. No matter the size or layout, we’re experts in office design and would love to work with you to create a happier, more productive environment for you and your business.