Management has never been easy; it’s not uncommon to hear terrible stories about horrible managers and the difficulties they subject their employees to. Stories about managers who are constantly looking over employee’s shoulders and reminding them to dot their i’s and cross their t’s. Or alternatively, managers who are so completely disengaged that they don’t even seem to have a solid grasp on the day-to-day activities of most of their employees. Or worst of all, managers who keep workers’ noses to the grindstone all day.
Of course, none of these management styles are beneficial to the company in the long-term. Employees with these types of managers hovering around often feel stifled, disengaged, stressed, or unsure of their next move. Productivity remains lower than it ought to be and nobody really seems happy with the job they’ve done at the end of the day.
As a manager, it is your job to promote a productive and healthy workplace; not a dreary, slow-moving one. Contrary to popular belief, productivity doesn’t necessarily stem from working harder or longer hours, but rather from creative spirits, trusting environments, and happy employees. Therefore, as a manager, it is your job to facilitate employee happiness in their workspace.
The only question that remains is the best way to start doing just that.
One of the most fundamental ways to start building a more productive workforce is to take a hard look at the office layout and organization. Some research suggests that employees who are happy within their work area are more likely to have higher job satisfaction rates and be nearly twice as productive when compared with employees who are unsatisfied with their workspace. It’s no wonder that major tech companies put so much effort into workplace satisfaction.
When considering a change in office workspace, it is critical to ask employees what is likely to make them more productive. For some, an open floor plan provides more opportunities to communicate with fellow employees and produce collaborative projects more effectively. For others, quiet areas to focus in are going to be preferred for greater success. All employees benefit from a relaxed office area or break room that allows them to temporarily walk away from work throughout the day.
Sometimes it isn’t even a complete rearrangement of floor plans that makes a difference. Sometimes all employees need to be more productive is a clean space and the time to organize it in a way that promotes efficiency. Providing the tools to do this and the opportunity to take ownership of a work area can make a substantial difference in productivity and happiness overall.
Let Creativity Flow
Another important means of boosting workplace happiness and productivity is by finding ways to allow employees to express themselves and their creative ideas. These ideas often flow their best when there is good communication in the workplace and employees feel as though they can trust each other and their managers. Once trust is there, creativity can be boosted in any number of ways, including the open floor plans mentioned above, the development of project breakout groups, or the hiring of more diverse employees.
Recruiting and investing in a diverse office has been linked to greater workplace happiness and productivity. Millennials, for instance, tend to prefer and often thrive in diverse workplaces with a sense of community that supports their creative ideas and drive to make a better world. A nice package of unique job perks can encourage creative thinkers to flock towards your company even more than huge salaries.
Of course, when seeking creative employees and promoting this type of a work environment, try not to forget the influence current company culture will have. Try to cater to employee work culture when coming up with ways to boost creative thinking, and think about whether or not your people will respond well or be uncomfortable. When hiring a new employee, try to find someone who will mesh well with everyone and help maintain good work vibes.
Finally, although it can seem counterintuitive, promote the idea of your employees taking regular breaks (within reason). Regular work breaks have been linked over and over again to a higher rate of job satisfaction, productivity, and longevity with the company in employees. Having just a few minutes a couple times throughout the day to get up and walk away from the task at hand makes a huge difference.
One example of this working is in the case of an employee who is struggling to write up a report because the right words just won’t come. Walking away and enjoying a short break can allow the employee to relax, revitalize, and come back ready to tackle problems. Furthermore, a break can ease up the mental bottleneck that has formed and allow words to flow more easily or a problem to be solved more quickly upon return.
Breaks can also improve employee health (and indirectly happiness) in a few other ways. For instance, if the employee works on a computer, taking regular breaks can greatly reduce digital eye strain and all of the negative side effects associated with that. Employees who do some physical activity such as walking during their breaks may also boost energy levels and improve their fitness in a small way.
The key to being the manager of a happy and highly productive team of individuals is finding ways to keep employees satisfied. Happiness and satisfaction can be improved in a huge number of ways, including office organization, creative encouragement, and breaks. Sometimes, it really is the small things that make the biggest difference.