Continuous improvement is the term given to ongoing effort to improve products, services or processes in the workplace. This improvement can either be incremental over time or a “breakthrough” improvement done at once, usually used to optimise product quality or customer satisfaction. But what about when Continuous Improvement is applied internally to the workplace?
It has long been documented that a healthy environment attributes greatly to employee job satisfaction. That environment can be impacted by workplace design, management skills and the behaviour of employees themselves. Being subjective in nature, it can be hard to control the impact that management and employee behaviour have over your environment, therefore, more and more small business owners are turning to workplace design to positively influence their employees.
Whether you’ve been granted financial support to improve your space, or just want to give back after a profitable year – improving your workplace can have so many benefits to your business. Better working environments can lead to an increase in employee engagement, which in turn strongly correlates with employee job satisfaction. Higher employee engagement also gives employees more control over their work, which can strengthen productivity and morale.
On that note, we’ve put together a list of small changes that can be used for breakthrough improvement towards a positive and healthy workplace.
Create a comfortable environment
As your team work closely with one another almost every day of the week, it’s important that they feel comfortable in the environment that they are in. You need to ensure that your work environment has an individual space for everyone where they can easily access the tools that they need. Make sure that there are meeting areas, where employees can come together and work with each other.
Employees should be given back-supporting chairs and any extra equipment they may need for health reasons, such as anti-glare screens for those who suffer from migraines. If you’re able to, offer healthy snacks such as fruit as an afternoon pick-me-up to help boost morale.
No – we don’t mean painting the walls. Employees are more likely to have higher job satisfaction if they work for an environmentally friendly company. A study from the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth found that employees would rather work for a company that is perceived to green than perceived to be profitable. Environmentally friendly in this instance, includes anti-pollution measures, recycling and renewable energy usage. So get out those recycling bins, switch to a more sustainable energy source and see that employee satisfaction rate grow!
In the more literal sense, adding a touch of green to the office is also known to increase workplace morale. Having some plants in your workspace is known to increase happiness and productivity. A team from Exeter University discovered back in 2014 that employees were 15% more productive when “lean” workplaces were filled with just a few, simple house plants.
Keep it light
Bad lighting in the workplace can have all sorts of negative effects on workers. Productivity and quality of work can plummet from bad lighting due to straining, headaches and even musculoskeletal disorders. Not just that, the inability to see properly in low lighted workspaces can lead to hazards, potentially resulting in a hefty lawsuit for the employer.
Lack of natural light can also have serious long terms effects on workers, sometimes leading to depression, lethargy or even heart disease. It may not always be possible to have windows in your office but switching from fluorescent to incandescent bulbs can help. Another option is investing in a lightbox for your employees; a cheaper alternative that shines an artificial light that mimics sunlight and will help improve overall mood and productivity.
To ensure that your employees are utilising their breaks effectively, it’s best to offer them a breakout area in which to do so. Not giving your workers a break from their computer screen is actually breaking health and safety laws which require staff to take frequent breaks from their workstations when using computers.
You don’t need to go all out – we’re not suggesting you install a slide or anything – but a few chairs and a table or even a sofa and soft furnishings will do the job. These areas can also double up as informal meeting areas where employees can have a little more privacy.
Flexible working is the latest benefit being offered to employees in companies up and down the country. 89% of British workers believe that flexible working would boost their productivity. Helping staff balance their work and home lives can have a clear impact on their happiness and overall job satisfaction.
Flexible working can be introduced at different levels and can vary from business to business. A common method is having flexible working hours that employees must work between, for example, employees must arrive between 7 am and 10 am and can leave between 3.30pm and 6.30pm. It’s common practice in many businesses to allow employees to work a certain amount of hours a week and they may choose how they work those hours. Overall introducing flexitime in some manner can help increase staff retention and strengthen the ability to hire new staff while reducing stress and fatigue in your current employees.