9 October 2012

Do Your Employees Enjoy Their Working Environment?



56 Degrees


Employee engagement


Above all, employees dictate the success or failure of a business.  A company can produce an excellent product or provide the best service, but if it’s employees are not happy in their environment then things will start to go wrong, and quickly.  Knowing how to motivate and retain productive, happy employees should be at the top of every Manager and HR professional’s agenda.

How to improve a working environment

Simply offering more money may seem a bit obvious but for some employees this will work.  Research carried out by industrial psychologist Edwin Locke, Ph.D, found that using money as a motivator increased productivity by 30% as employees tend to consider earning more money as equating to achieving their personal goals.

Offering a cash incentive will not work for all employees however……..

No One Answer to motivation

The problem with motivation is that there is no rule or formula that, when used, will immediately motivate an employee.  Some employees might be spurred on solely by salary, others may need inspiration and creativity in their day to day role in order to continue to be productive and improve.  Because every employee is different, several strategies regarding motivation and employee encouragement may need to be implemented.  In essence, find out what your employees want and use this to motivate them.

Some statistics from GreatBizTools

  • Only about 25% of employees work at their full capacity.
  • About 50% of employees give just the bare minimum.
  • Less than 10% of employees believe they don’t benefit from their company’s success.

Talk to each other

Simply talking to your employees in a frank and open way can work wonders for employee engagement and motivation.  Being open and transparent will encourage a feeling of trust within your workforce.  In a survey carried out by CIPD, 40% of employers surveyed failed to communicate the rationale behind their pay decisions. And of those who did communicate, only 15% related their decision to individual performance.  In the same survey, only 19% of employees felt that their pay rise reflected their performance.  These two statistics provide an interesting insight into the lack of transparency within certain businesses that could be resolved by a simple discussion.  One of the top factors for employee contentment is that management are approachable and easy to talk to.  If employees perceive managers as being unapproachable then how can they be managed effectively?

Departments that openly discuss ideas and issues with other areas of the business will often find the answer they are looking for in a more timely manner.  Social clubs and other recreational activities that employees can participate in, are a great way to encourage employees to interact on a social level.  This often leads to the same results as mentioned above as well as being fun and giving your employees something to discuss.  A survey by askGrapevineHR found that 70% of respondents believe their work colleagues are crucial to enjoying a happy working life. Two thirds of people would also turn down a job offer and pay rise to stay working with people they like and respect.  65% of those surveyed say that being happy at work makes them more productive in their job.


Taking an interest in what your workforce have to say, both positive and negative, and acting upon their suggestions will show that you are all part of a team, rather than the ‘them and us’ culture that some businesses suffer from.  If you can achieve a team culture within the business, and interdepartmental interaction, this will often improve efficiency, potentially avoid communication issues before they arise and encourage camaraderie.
It is not enough to simply listen, you also need to understand what your employees are telling you, and discuss ways in which you can resolve issues or implement suggestions.  Empathising with your employees is also important, remember that your workforce consists of many individuals.  Each member of your company ‘team’ has a  different personality, goal and aspiration, this should be taken into consideration when speaking to them on a one to one basis.


Recognition of a job well done, aimed at either an individual, a team or the company as a whole will enthuse employees and encourage them to work for that recognition again.  A simple “thanks for your hard work” goes a long way and doesn’t cost the business a penny. Ignoring good work may result in employees wondering why they bother to work above and beyond what they need to do as a minimum in their role (and as mentioned above, that could be 50% of your workforce!).
Recognising your Sales team for example, is a crucial factor in retaining them as employees and maintaining their productivity.  Without reward and recognition, sales professionals would simply move onto a company that did reward them for their efforts.
Retaining employees also avoids the need to recruit new team members which can be very costly.


Encouragement is free, if an employee is doing a good job, tell them.  A simple “I really appreciate the work you are putting into this project” takes all of 2 seconds to say, but will have a lasting, positive effect.  If an employee requires some additional training or assistance from a colleague, make sure this happens. Encouraging your workforce to take part in marketing campaigns such as promotional photos or videos improves the likelihood of them feeling that they are the true face of the company, as well as showing your clients, and potential clients, a true reflection of the company culture.


It is also important to get the office aesthetics correct.  An office environment should be a hive of activity and productivity, encouraging this with interesting and inspiring surroundings is a must.  Whether this be a few plants in the corner of the room or recent marketing campaign posters on the wall, this is a consideration that should be made according to the individual company culture.

Some points to consider when trying to improve the office environment are;

  • Maintain Cleanliness – A clean environment is much nicer place to be for the best part of a day.  Ensuring that the office space is cleaned and tidied, ready for the next working day should be a priority.
  • Provide Appropriate Lighting – Sitting under a series of strip lights that almost blind you is not nice.  Softer lighting is a much more comfortable experience.
  • Noise and Temperature – A comfortable temperature should be maintained along with an acceptable level of noise (unless a creative discussion is going on!).
  • Comfortable Furniture – A comfortable workstation is a must, if your employees are uncomfortable then they won’t be productive!  If a business provides ergonomic chairs for instance, then employees will appreciate this thought for their comfort.
  • Space – Allowing employees their own personal space is easily achieved by erecting partitioning.  This should not be to the extent that it restricts discussion and interaction.
  • Refreshments – Water fountains and other refreshments will enable employees to take a 2 minute break to refresh themselves if needed.

Help employees to be efficient and save time

Providing employees with time saving equipment and software (such as Ciphr Net) allows them to spend time of productive duties rather than time consuming administrative tasks.  For instance, with Ciphr Net you can allow employees to update their details, book holiday, log absence and query calendars without the need to fill out forms or email other departments.
Imagine if you could save your IT department the time it takes them to add details of every new employee who joins the organisation into Active Directory.  Using a tool such as Ciphr Connect enable such a time saving, allowing IT to concentrate on fewer admin duties and move forward with proactive projects.  Making sure that employees have the tools they require to effectively carry out their role is a ‘must’, this sounds obvious but quite often workers have to ‘make do’ with their allocated equipment, for example, not having a smart phone or tablet required to demonstrate an app.

If you have any original employee reward schemes or suggestions for rewarding good performance let us know!