For employers, keeping a happy and motivated workforce is one of the keys to success in business. With increased motivation comes better productivity, improved morale and those all-important results.
However, understanding what you can do as an employer to help drive this motivation is another question altogether.
Stationary and office equipment suppliers Viking recently put together findings from years of research offering insight into the needs of employees. They pulled together the most significant results from the research, enabling them to find the areas that need the most improvement across offices in the UK.
Provide mental health support
There’s no escaping it, mental health is an issue that we all need to be aware of and actively seek to discuss. For employers, playing an active role in mental health awareness and offering support to employees who might be going through difficult times is vitally important. The research went on to demonstrate this:
Of the 14,000 workers asked, 6 in 10 said they have negative thoughts about their job at least once a week. Further to this, 43% say that at least once a week they feel an unpleasant level of pressure to succeed, and half of employees admitted to regularly work over their contracted hours.
With this combination of a high-pressure environment and extended working hours, it’s no surprise that so many workers in the UK and succumbing to negative thoughts about their jobs.
For employees, being able to speak to a manager for support could provide welcome help when these negative feelings come along – 65% of managers said they’d been approached by a team member concerning mental health issues.
Unfortunately, over two-thirds of the managers surveyed said they’ve had no helpful mental health training at all, meaning that they were left to their own devices to try and provide support.
Change the average working day
Working nine until five, over five days has become the recognised average working week, so much so that we wouldn’t bat an eyelid when asked to show up at the office and work these hours. However, this type of week can leave little time for leisure, lead to long commutes and mean that workers can be susceptible to burnout.
The research showed that this traditional working week is no longer a preference for workers in the UK. Half the people asked said they’d like to work a four-day week, preferring to drop a day and increase their hours from 8am to 6pm each day.
On top of this, 60% of those asked wanted to work from the comfort of their own home and a third want to spend some time working remotely. With high-speed internet and tools like Skype, this is something that could easily be achievable for employers.
When it comes to taking some time out to refresh and refuel at lunch, a one-hour lunch break was found to be the most preferential. However, two-thirds of those asked said they work through their lunch break at least once a week.
With 52% choosing to eat and 28% opting to read, it’s clear that the lunch break is an important time for employees to switch off and refuel, helping them work to their optimum level for the rest of the day.
Provide the right environment to work in
When it comes to employee motivation, the type of environment provided in your office space can make a big difference. We’ve all worked with overly chatty people, loud eaters and so on, and it can be hard work to get through a day at your desk without feeling frustrated. Similarly, sitting in a drab cubicle makes for an uninspiring environment for any worker.
28% of respondents to the survey said that colleagues being regularly late was a top annoying office habit, the same number of people also said that complaining all the time frustrated them. Perhaps predictably, people eating smelly food was an unpopular habit, with 24% taking a dislike to this.
Some of these habits may seem small and irrelevant, however 4 in 10 respondents said they’d considered leaving their job because of them, making it important for employers to take note.
When it comes to office décor, a majority of workers (54%) said they thought art should take a prominent place in every workplace. Again, employers should consider taking this seriously, especially considering the fact that half of employees said it reduces stress and 53% think it would make them happier.
Take care of physical health
The benefits of paying close attention to employee mental health are clear, but this can also apply to physical health too. With many workers expected to spend the majority of their day at their desk glued to a screen, there are likely to be numerous effects to their physical health if measures aren’t put into place.
With 8 in 10 workers already worried about the health effects of sitting at their desk all day, it’s clearly an issue right at the front of employee’s minds. 58% of respondents said they sit at a desk for over five hours a day, with over one-fifth (23%) spending longer than seven hours in an office chair.
As part of health and safety legislation, employers should be aware of workstation health and safety, however one-third of employees still don’t feel like their employers are doing enough to help with their health and 43% don’t feel informed about how to protect their health at their desk. Clearly there is a lot of work employers can do to help their workers feel in control of their health at work.
Be clear on social media policies
There’s nothing worse than going into work and feeling like you’re stepping back into school. Having a specific set of employee guidelines in place is one thing, but authoritarian managers and strict rules can make the workplace an uncomfortable place to be for employees.
The research showed that social media channels are important to workers, with less than 15% of those asked saying they stay off social media and other apps whilst at work. This is despite 60% saying that social media is banned or strictly limited in their workplace.
Taking a break from work and switching off to look at social media is clearly an important part of the working day for many people.
For many employers, an all-encompassing ban on social media probably feels like the best way to ensure everyone is concentrating and focused on their work. Interestingly, however, 29% of people said they’d be less productive at work if social media was banned.
Providing clarity on social media is something many workers require, with half of all respondents saying they don’t know what their employer’s policy is when it comes to rules on their social media usage.
As an employer, it might be easier to expect your employees to arrive at work every day feeling motivated and ready to work. However, it’s important to remember that people are all different and need the right kind of nurturing environment in order to work to their full potential.
Following some of these five tips could be the key to increasing the motivation of your team and making them happier at work, once you’ve done that, you’ll see the difference in productivity and results should soon follow.
About the Author
Mark Wiggins is a writer based in Leeds, England. Using years of experience in various management roles, he specialises in writing about a whole host of subjects including employee motivation and satisfaction.