Stop the office slump: Keep your employees smiling

Here's some advice on how to make your office conditions more pleasant and less miserable.

If you’ve ever seen the classic Billy Wilder film The Apartment, you’ll know how awful an office can be.

In every office scene, the workplace is an overcrowded, faceless mass of coordinated, clinical, eerily symmetrical cubicles and workers who slump through their day as though they were passing their time in a Victorian workhouse.

It’s not ideal, is it? When you’re handcuffed to a desk that’s surrounded by miserable employees, miserable wall coverings, miserable spreadsheets and a miserable view, you’ll inevitably end up with just one feeling – misery.

And that black cloud hanging over your employees will lead to poor output, low productivity and, ultimately, a decrease in profits.

So how can you spruce up your office to give your employees a lift?

A hand from hygiene

According to hygiene specialists Initial, there are more germs on an average office keyboard than on a toilet seat, which makes typing this sentence feel like dancing over a minefield.

Indeed, the average office is always teetering on the brink of a hygiene disaster, spreading illness like wildfire and leaving trails of germs like breadcrumbs through a Grimm fairy tale.

Thanks to those mucky sods who don’t stay clean in an office, worker absences increase and that miserable stream of germs infects every work item, from keyboards to door handles, kitchen cutlery to appliances.

Invest in effective washroom services, dot a few hygiene posters around the place and keep everyone conscious of good hand washing practice. That way, your workplace won’t be mired in poor health. It might even keep those mucky sods at bay.

Give it a break

Numerous miserly employers – you can accurately imagine them rubbing their palms and cackling as they belch, smoke cigars and slick back their hair with their own spit – tend to skimp on staff rooms, seeing them mainly as the place where workers aren’t making them money.

However, a staff room kitted out with some pizzazz will boost employee morale as they refuel. And what does morale translate to? You guessed it – an increase in productivity and, in turn, profits.

Related: How regular short breaks can help boost employee productivity

The serenity of quiet

With noise comes epinephrine, a hormone directly related to our fight-or-flight response patterns. So just imagine how stressful a noisy office can be for your tenser employees.

The clattering of keyboards, the gossipy yammering of Izzy from IT, the heavy footsteps of chubby Phil as he lurches to the biscuit tin again – all this noise can turn even the sharpest of workers into a distracted mess.

That’s not to say your office should be as quiet as a graveyard. Balance is what you need, so ensure your employees are working as a team rather than nattering to the point of annoyance.

Micromanage no more

Remember in school exams when you’d freeze up the moment some invigilator walked by, as though they were breathing down your neck? Just imagine having your boss do that to you on a daily, hourly or possibly even minutely basis.

Micromanagement has become the bane of office life, where the quarter man has to pass a message to the middle man, who’ll then deliver it to the three-quarter man who’ll pass it onto you. It’s like the most tedious game of Chinese Whispers ever played.

Endless admin, constant performance reports and employee checks – they all lead to employees feeling like a cog in a huge and passive machine. Take a step back from your employees every now and again to let them get on with their job. Who knows – they might even perform well without your constant input.

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