Regardless of where you work, what industry you’re involved with, and how large of a company you work for, there is always room for improvement in the workplace. Always.
The fact of the matter is, most of us spend a large portion of our lives in the workplace, whether it’s a traditional office, a home office, or business trips around the country and around the world.
There are many aspects of our places of work that we just have to accept, such as the office location, who we work with, and the hours of the day and days of the week that we have to work.
But there are still many different aspects of the workplace that we can control, either as individuals or in collaboration with our co-workers.
Here are several bright ideas to make the workplace better, many of which cost little or nothing to implement immediately.
Just always be sure to clear any major decisions with the powers that be in your office.
Opening Lines of Communication
Many of the problems that arise in personal, romantic long-term relationships such as a marriage or a partnership tend to be based on a failure to communicate openly and honestly.
The importance of communication holds true in the workplace as well, especially if your place of work has a large staff (more than 30 employees).
While there are dozens of different and creative ways to open the lines of communication in the workplace, we’ve come up with just a few ideas that are simple, elegant, and effective.
They offer both means of communication as well as ways of encouraging more communication in the future.
We’ve all encountered this idea before, to varying degrees. Setting out a suggestion box in the workplace can be an easy way to tell the office that management is interested in hearing complaints, comments, and ideas.
A key aspect of making sure that a suggestion box is a success is to state outright that the human resources rep, supervisor, or other designated employee will actually go through and read the suggestions every week or every month.
Any rules or guidelines beyond that are completely up to you. Maybe you’d like to give employees the option of submitting ideas anonymously. Maybe you want everyone to sign their comments.
You can even ask employees to write down how they’d prefer management to respond to their comment.
Ideally, over time, employees in the office will use the suggestion box less and less, in favor of communicating directly with management or other employees to solve complaints and submit new ideas.
Your office likely already holds regular meetings that summarize upcoming tasks and items of note.
But not every office holds meetings specifically designed for coming up with new ideas for the office.
For companies that need to produce creative content, brainstorming meetings are a no-brainer and offer a great chance for different employees’ ideas to be heard.
But even companies that repeat the same tasks, again and again, can still benefit from this style of meeting.
Essentially, you can make the focus of the meeting anything you want. Such a meeting can even take the place of a suggestion box.
Ask employees about changes they would like to see in the office, even with regards to very small details like where the coat rack is placed.
Honest Performance Reviews
Performance reviews are dreaded by many employees, as well as by many managers and supervisors.
These talks can sometimes be uncomfortable or even make certain employees angry when they take criticism very personally.
But honest performance reviews are a key opportunity to communicate with your employees or your boss, depending on your role in the office.
This is the time to tell an employee exactly what they’re doing right and exactly where they need to improve.
Offer to help the employee work some career planning.
If you’re an employee, don’t be afraid to ask direct questions to gain a better understanding of the ways in which you need to change your work performance.
Rewarding Good Work
One very important way to make the workplace better is to make sure that good work is rewarded.
Depending on company policies, these rewards could take many different forms. The office could offer gift cards in return for meeting or exceeding sales goals.
Top-performing employees could be allowed to take slightly longer lunch breaks or decide on what kind of food the office will order for the next holiday party.
Making the Office Comfortable
Making the office more comfortable can certainly improve the workplace overall. It may require an initial investment, but your employees will thank you for taking the time and effort to improve the feel of the office.
Over time, employees may even be more excited to come into work or to work longer hours than normal.
Workplace break rooms tend to not receive updates. Consider purchasing a new, superior coffee machine or two or three comfortable chairs that can be used for relaxing or brainstorming.
Ask employees for input on what changes should be made. They may even have a few ideas you hadn’t thought of before.
Another way to make the office more comfortable is to make the overall atmosphere of the workplace more easygoing.
Try to assure that no one yells or insults someone else in the workplace. Meeting expectations and deadlines will still be important, but you never want employees to be afraid or intimidated by the idea of coming into work.
Once everyone knows that they are respected by their fellow co-workers and that all communication will be conducted with professionalism, the staff will be more likely to feel relaxed in the workplace and therefore free to succeed and excel.
As we said above, there are many, many different ways to improve the workplace. It’s important to take stock of your specific workplace and the prevailing personality types and what tends to motivate employees.
You can use these insights to decide which of these methods, if any, you’d like to implement to try and improve the office and make work more pleasant for employees.