We’re snug in the winter doldrums, struggling with short days, low light, and bitter cold. Even lower than the temperatures or the light are employees’ sense of motivation. Around this time of year, employees need a little extra boost in their morale to keep up productivity. Here are a few ideas to keep everyone positive and working as hard as ever!
Keep the office environment friendly.
This is a wide net we’re casting, so let’s break it down. Having a “friendly” work environment means more than just saying “Good morning” to your co-workers (although that’s very important for building rapport) or generally being polite. It means creating a workplace that’s comfortable for people where they don’t feel stressed or depressed. Because you’re working with individuals, everyone is going to have their triggers, but in general, it’s a good idea to keep the following in mind:
1. Keep the temperature comfortable. When it’s too hot or too cold, people have a hard time focusing on their work. Imagine trying to get something done when the person next to you is sweating up a storm, or trying to focus on a project when you can’t feel your fingers.
2. Humans are like houseplants: they thrive in natural light. Weird, but true! Most Americans spend a large portion of their lives working in an office space with little opportunity to spend time outside. That sort of monotony can be very discouraging. If your office has windows, try to configure the office so that your employees sit near them so they can get a little light or a view outside. Having a chance to glimpse a bit of sky or see some sunlight is motivating to everyone!
However, if your office doesn’t have windows, try to change out those buzzing fluorescent lights with low-wattage ones that are easier on the eyes. Installing some low-maintenance plants like ferns also give the feeling of being outdoors and in the sun. It’s a mind-hack you can use to your advantage!
3. While we’re on the topic of using your space wisely, assess the layout of the office. Does it feel open and spacious or are employees crammed in together like so many sardines? Try to create a lot of open space and eliminate visual barriers like cubicle walls so employees can see each other. They’ll have that visual connection with team members and will make them feel more united.
4. Have a coffee or tea corner. Bring in some healthy snacks once in a while. Since employees spend so much time at work, they may as well feel comfortable there. Rather than having to go out to get that 2 o’clock caffeine fix, it’d be far easier (and cheaper for the employee) to walk to the kitchenette and quickly make a cup of joe.
Encourage your team!
Office environments are the most motivating and positive when everyone is on the same page. When everyone feels connected and valued, individuals are more excited about voicing opinions and staying involved with the business. Here are a few ways to keep everyone happy:
1. Utilize wall space for employees. This can be a bulletin board to track progress or keep everyone up to date on what the company is doing. It can be a place for employees to put up cards, notes, seasonal greetings, announcements to other staff members, etc. Let them contribute.
2. Incentivize! Make the workplace interactive by offering incentives for high performance. And this is where you can get truly creative. Think outside the monetary-prize-box. It could be concert tickets or getting the supervisor to finally shave his beard. Everyone has to be there, anyway; it might as well be a fun (yet productive) place to be!
3. Give shout-outs to individuals. If someone closes a crucial deal or nets a new profit for the company, be outspoken about it and lavish genuine praise on that person. Everyone will recognize that effort does reap benefits and will be more motivated to receive some praise of their own.
Set a good example.
Everyone is familiar with the adage, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” It’s a tried and true saying that goes unutilized in offices with low morale. Here are a few tips for sweetening the deal around your office.
1. Don’t reprimand publicly. If you need to, it’s best to privately arrange a meeting with someone who needs to be reprimanded. Rather than confronting them in front of the other employees and “making an example” of someone, be professional and discreet. They will only resent you for embarrassing them openly.
2. Get to know everyone. Set aside some time to catch up with employees. Show them that you care about what’s going on in their lives, or encourage whatever they do in their free time. Showing an active interest in the lives of people around you makes people want to share more of themselves with you. Working with someone who is charming and caring motivates others to work harder and get into that person’s good graces.
3. Foster autonomy. By letting employees decide what extra tasks they take on and with whom, a good workplace motivates employees to sharpen their skills and take pride in what they contribute.
You can cheer and praise until you’re blue in the face, but true motivation comes from employees are are genuinely happy to be at work and that all starts with the people on top. So let’s hang in there and keep the spirits high!