With the economy picking back up, it’s only a matter of time before job turnover also starts speeding up again. Unsatisfied workers will begin looking for a better job environment and if your office morale is lacking, your company could be the one losing team members. But making some tweaks to your office and work culture can turn the tables and make yours the company that people are dying to work for. Try these techniques for boosting office morale and see your employees’ satisfaction soar.
Get a dog
Not every work environment may be suitable to have dogs running around, but research has shown that dogs in the office can help boost the morale and improve work relationships. Whether it’s one office dog or many dogs brought by the employees who own them, the furry co-workers somehow build trust between employees and encourage collaboration. If you allow workers to bring their own dogs from home, it also keeps them from wanting to leave work right at 5 to get home to their pet.
In 2011, employees everywhere got great news: there is now scientific evidence that says they should be able to browse the Internet at work. Now, we’re not talking going to any sites you’d be ashamed to show your wife, but in general, if you let employees use their short moments of downtime to look at websites they enjoy, they will feel less tired become more productive when they’re done. Studies have found that workers who use their breaks to goof around on the Internet rather than checking emails or texting friends are also more engaged in their work after the break and less likely to get bored with it.
Cut down on telecommuters
The trend in employment is to let more and more employees work, at least occasionally, from home. As many as 40 million Americans telecommute at least once a year and that number continues to grow, with some estimates putting the number at 43 percent of the population by 2016 (though that seems a little extreme). But telecommuters in your company might be hurting the morale of the physical office. In-office workers are less satisfied with their work when there are more people working remotely. It may be because they have weaker ties with these co-workers or because they feel like they have less freedom and more work than the unseen workers at home.
Choose an appropriate office layout
In terms of the set-up of your office, what works for one company won’t necessarily work for another. You obviously have to take the space you have to work with and the nature of your business into account, but there are some office layouts that are better for morale than others. Traditional cubicles are the worst, making workers often feel isolated, under appreciated, and depressed. The open layout has less privacy than cubicles, which could be a problem if your workers make a lot of phone calls, but it encourages communication between employees and makes them feel like part of a team. Closed offices, where employees each have their own office, might be the best for morale, offering privacy and satisfaction, but if you can’t afford that, you might look into a mixed office plan, with closed offices, open-office desks, and a common area.
Avoid sex jokes
So “That’s what she said” jokes might actually hurt the office environment? Maybe taking management tips from Michael Scott isn’t such a good idea after all. A 2009 study found that even when people enjoy flirtation and sexual innuendo in the workplace, it has a negative effect on the morale of the office. Surprisingly, the effect is even greater among men. So try to cut down on sexual jokes among your employees, even if everyone seems to be laughing along. The office may seem tame at first, but it will boost spirits overall.
Relax the dress code
Whether you work in a place where suits are the daily requirement or your office just demands slacks and button-downs or dresses, rewarding your employees with a casual day can be a big morale booster. Many offices go with Casual Fridays, which allows workers to relax a bit and gives them something to look forward to throughout the week. You might also want to give dress-down days as a reward for finishing a long project or a special achievement.
Swear a bit
You don’t want to swear at someone at work, but mixing in cursing occasionally when appropriate can actually build relationships in the workplace and allow employees to release frustrations. A British study found that profanities that aren’t used in a negative or abusive way can boost morale and decrease stress. The boss should set the tone for the amount of swearing that is acceptable and gauge the comfort levels of employees to make sure no one is turned off by the amount. You should also avoid using foul language in front of clients or senior staff members.
Throw a party
Many companies were discussing cancelling their office holiday parties when the recession was at its worst. Spending money on a lavish affair didn’t make sense when everyone was hurting for cash. But experts warn against nixing parties altogether because it could hurt the morale of employees who have been working hard all year long. If you typically have a party around the holidays or for other special occasions, like the company’s anniversary, keep the celebration but scale it back a bit. You don’t need a chocolate fountain or a ballroom for employee satisfaction.