Everyone has a slow day at work now and then, right? But does it have to be that way? Research has shown that the workplace environment has a significant impact on employee performance. Since there are many areas of our employees environment in which we can't change, like the weather, let’s take a look at some ways we can make manageable but significant improvements that can increase the productivity and well-being of our staff.
Adjust the lighting.
Lighting may not seem as adaptable as some other environmental factors, but studies show that lighting can impact employee performance significantly. If the lights are too dim, employees may grow lethargic and end up working slower, while very bright or fluorescent lighting can cause headaches and eye strain. One particular research paper asserts that a well-lit environment can help increase performance by as much as 9% when compared to one that is poorly lit. Using a combination of natural and artificial light is considered to be ideal. When employees have the opportunity to work near windows, many report feeling more focused and relaxed. If an office does not have windows, using artificial light to achieve an atmosphere similar to natural light can still be an improvement. Allowing employees to provide feedback on any proposed changes in workplace lighting can promote collaboration and the best outcome for your team.
Address noise complaints.
Noise can pose a significant distraction in an office environment. Particularly in offices with an open floor plan, sound may carry throughout the space and decrease productivity. One way to deal with this is to provide a quiet space where people can work if they need to focus on a specific task. Another option is to allow certain staff members to use headphones or earbuds to block out distracting sounds around them. If the noise pollution is significant, you may want to consider providing your employees with noise-cancelling headphones. They can be used with soothing music or on their own to block out any loud and undesirable sounds.
Adjust the temperature.
The indoor temperature of a workplace can affect not only the comfort level, but also the health and productivity of your employees. When the temperature is maintained with heating or air conditioning, people are able to focus on their work more. Studies show that they will not be distracted by fluctuating temperatures or excessive heat or cold, allowing them to concentrate on the task at hand. This is significant particularly in very warm areas, as performance has been shown to decrease by 2% with every increasing degree above 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Research also suggests that women are affected more significantly than men by workplace temperature.
Install an air purifier.
Using an indoor air purifier in an office space can remove airborne pollutants such as mold, bacteria and pollen from the air. These toxins are the major cause of illness and allergies in the workplace and so it's a great idea to try and remove as many as possible. When these contaminants are removed from the air, your staff will be healthier and more productive, and are likely to take fewer sick days. Also as a side benefit – studies have shown that the fresh and clean air provided by a good air purifier can help promote clarity and focus for employees and clients.
If you are considering buying a suitable machine for your office, make sure you read up on the what constitutes a good air purifier for the environment you intend to use it as there are many sizes and types available.
Whether an employee needs to be understood on a personal issue, has an idea they would like to see considered by the company, or is looking for assistance on completing a difficult work assignment, support from a supervisor can go a long way. When employees feel supported, they have been shown to demonstrate more positivity and involvement in their work.
Well-designed incentive programs can improve employee performance by over 40% in some cases. The incentives used should be tangible; either monetary rewards or a relevant and desirable experience or product. Quota-based incentive programs are especially useful when performance levels are not adequate, as employees can be motivated to increase their performance or production incrementally.
Goals can be useful on many levels in the workplace. Of course, it is often necessary to set goals for production or department deliverables and outcomes. However, goals can go far beyond this. By involving employees in the development of department goals they may be more invested in getting things done and meeting deadlines. It can also be useful to allow each employee to set personal goals. These goals could be for production and deliverables, for learning a skill, or getting a new project started. If goals on each of these levels are well-defined and supervisors provide feedback and support, employees will develop a sense of ownership over their projects, and their productivity will increase naturally.
Employee productivity can be difficult to quantify, and at times even more difficult to improve. By minimizing distractions and potential health hazards, and providing structure and support, your company can start working towards better performance today.