When dealing with productivity, one of the first things a leader must ask is how happy his people are. Companies prefer having a happy workforce because it’s scientifically proven that they are more productive, while the inverse is true. A study from the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick showed that happy employees enjoyed a 12% spike in productivity, while unhappy workers were 10% less productive.
What methods are successful companies using in order to promote happiness? It turns out that one of the key factors is a healthy work-life balance. The Corporate Executive Board which represents 80% of Fortune 500 companies did a study on 50,000 workers. They found that those who had a good work-life balance worked 21% harder than those that didn’t.
Avoiding the Employee Trap of Work-Life Balance
Productivity leader Slack walks the talk when it comes to productivity and work-life balance. In Silicon Valley, companies are famous for having plush campuses that have all the creature comforts an employee could have, from on-site sleeping pods, electric computer desks, television and arcade games, dual monitor desk stands, to an office gym. Companies put in all the incentives for people to stay in the office as long as possible. Employee engagement is important, but it can backfire. Slack actively bucks this trend, and believes that it’s a trap to entice employees to stay at the office longer.
“We are actually genuinely focused on a work-life balance,” says Ali Rayl, Slack’s Vice President for Customer Experience. “It’s something a lot of companies pay lip service to, but we like to tell people to work hard and go home. We don’t kit out our offices with ping pong tables or arcade games or anything. We really want people to come in, focus on their work and then go home.”
It works, and Slack offices are mostly empty by 6:30 pm and the company has a 92% employee approval rating as per Glassdoor. Making sure that employees leave the office to spend some quality time at home is extremely important and an accurate indicator of work-life balance.
Stories of employees basically living at their workplace are not all that uncommon. There are people who work long hours, pulling sixteen hour work days, and then sleeping at the office only to wake up and continue the cycle. The fun campuses with all the creature comforts simply exacerbate this trap, lulling employees into the security of staying in the office all the time, because it’s a nice place to be. That’s not a good work-life balance by any measure, and is skewed heavily towards work.
It’s more effective to have an office that one looks forward to going to, but wouldn’t mind leaving. The key to that is having an office environment that is actually conducive to working, rather than sleeping, taking breaks or enjoying various hobbies. And the secret behind that one is making sure that the office is equipped with all the correct productivity tools an employee needs.
Creating a Healthy Workspace
One of the emerging trends today is the healthy workspace. It has never been more important to ensure that your workplace has the tools employees need to do their work in an efficient, healthy manner.
The Global Wellness Institute found that 76% of the global workforce is suffering or struggling with their physical wellbeing. In addition, companies with healthy workspaces had 65% lower employee turnover, with 37% lower absenteeism, 10% higher customer satisfaction and 21% higher productivity.
The study gives us simple insights into how we can improve the workspace.
Investing in proper workspace design through proper office desk equipment and sit-stand desks is a basic thing but does wonders for employee wellness and efficiency. Sit-stand workstations have been found to improve cognitive performance by 14% according to a study from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. This is in addition to better employee posture, which itself improves employee health and wellness significantly.
Other things that are effective in improving the quality of the workplace include detox spaces. These are simple areas in the office which are readily available for employees. They can be useful for independent thinking, private meetings, and just simply taking a breather from the cubicle.
Plants and greenery:
Plants are also a simple, but very effective and elegant addition to any workspace. There is something in human evolutionary biology that gets an instant boost in mood from even the slightest glimpse of greenery, and the plants can also make the office more appealing to the eye. A Norwegian study notes how plants in the office reduce psychological and physiological stress, improve mood, and ease mental fatigue while improving cognitive performance.
Investing in a healthy workspace is important, and it is one of the keys to keep your people happy.
Other things you can do
Aside from getting the basic office environment right, there are a lot of other things employers can do to ensure a fun workplace where employees feel good and keep morale high. Even better, most of these things don’t cost much yet they can add so much value to your employee’s day.
The first and perhaps most important thing you can give your employees is recognition. Having their work acknowledged is important, and builds esteem in the company as they see that the work they are doing is valued. It can be as simple as a pat on the back and a thank you, or you can have regular awarding ceremonies to recognize a job well done.
Having career coaching and growth tracks is also a big deal. You don’t have to promote an employee every month, but having a discussion with them on how they fit in the company, and a general direction and trajectory for their time gives meaning to why they come in and work.
Wellness programs also help contribute and keep people up and on their toes. Japanese companies are famous for having light early morning exercise to keep employees in good physiological shape. The detox spaces you invested in for the workplace can be used for things like yoga sessions or other quick activities that can make a difference to your employee’s wellbeing.
Combined with a culture of positivity and wellness programs, and employees can really dig in and get to their roles more effectively. Be sure that you invest in a proper healthy workspace, and give employees all the support they need to excel, and you can reap the benefits of a truly happy workforce.