HR & Management

Five ways to make a happy business environment without pay rises

7 min read

02 November 2017

Happiness can be a driving force for better performance and productivity and it’s simply a good idea to be happy in your daily job.

How can a manager harvest a happy business environment? Is there anything they can do? Here are five suggestions that work and have nothing to do with pay rises.

(1) Create a positive ripple effect

In groups, emotions will pass from one individual to another. Beyond the simple “mirroring” of other people, emotional states have been referred to as a more lasting kind of contagion, in experiments where actors set out to influence others’ moods covertly.

There is no role more influential in an office environment for emotional ripple effects than a manager. According to one study, if a manager is distrustful, shifts allegiances and twists information it will undermine and create tension and burnout in staff.

In contrast, if they are open and generous and trust their employees, they promote positive behaviour with real gains in overall performance, leading to a happy business environment.

Ripple effects are very real so be aware, as a boss, what employees’ take away from your emotional behaviour. Promote transparency, communication and a feeling of being valued in the office for a happy business.

Avoid being overly aggressive, undermining and openly suspicious. Short term gains from getting a result from shouting at an employee may be lost if that employee leaves your business a month later or spreads stories about the way you behaved.

(2) Always procure the most appropriate, reliable tools 

Seven out of ten people say they feel irritable at work and major office frustrations that annoy workers are slow computers, IT problems and computers’ crashing. Anyone who has almost finished their work and not saved it, only to have the computer crash, will understand IT rage.

Investment in high quality technology, as well as IT support, might not make your staff dance around the office but it will prevent serious work frustrations and enable workers to excel in their job performance.

Don’t skimp on hardware and software that’s designed for your sector and make sure staff have the means to do their job in the first place. A happy business environment is one that isn’t held back to do well, by tools.

(3) Take care when crafting the work environment 

You are creating a tribe, or a work family. The more cohesive and team-like your staff are, the more they will act in harmony and create a brand identity – very important if you are a customer-facing business.

Make the work space pleasant to be in – not exactly a home from home, but a place that encourages positive feelings and thoughts. Put up your brand and brand values around the office – your slogan on view – simple cues to tell staff they are in a classy, professional and inspired, happy business environment.

Have potted plants, comfortable chairs and wide desks. Make quality coffee available and ensure the work place is clean with a consistent, comfortable temperature. Staff should feel valued if you invest in their comfort. Encourage mild desk personalisation and family pics for space ownership.

A breakout area for chat and lunch – with a settee, will soften the office and is a meeting point. Craft an enjoyable, aesthetic place to spend time and it will also make for a good impression for clients visiting.

(4) Work together, accomplish together, relax together

Consider group lunches, taking on charity events in teams, entering and attending award ceremonies together – even fun days out together. Create team momentum, as opposed to stagnation, through the year. Also involve employees in the broader view of what the company is aiming for, so they are invested in a group goal rather than feeling like someone who clocks in at 9am and clocks out at 5pm.

It helps to get to know people in your workplace as they will have stresses and pressures – together with ideas and desires for achievement, that may be hidden during the normal bustle of a working day.

Everyone ultimately wants to be valued, achieve great things and have a chance to succeed. Tap into your staff’s dreams, find out if and why they may feel held back? You may find a platform to transform someone flying under the radar into a star player.

Also, find ways to get your people to laugh together – laughing in the office can make a huge difference to morale and offer a happy business environment. It can help with trust, creativity and team bonding.

(5) Develop roles

A happy business in a professional sense often comes from knowing there is or will be progress, career development and training to higher levels. You may hire professionals that get the job done but consider that they may want to develop further, aim for promotions, overcome challenges and learn new skills. Nurture staff and they’ll become stronger for your business.

In larger companies, there have been programmes where employees are encouraged to learn in lunch time – where a visiting speaker comes in for 30 minutes to share knowledge. This may not always be practical on a regular basis but why not book in a few days each year where the company, or groups in the company, can learn about a critical part of the business.

Even if you simply offer information and support on training courses – it will show the team that their role development is being taken seriously.

Dan Barfoot is the operations manager of CMD Recruitment in Wiltshire, specialising in Industrial and commercial recruitment

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