If you want to create and grow a successful company, you need happy, productive employees. So, what's the secret to keeping your employees content? The key is to maintain a great work environment.
Everything from physical changes (like lighting and organization) to shifts in the company culture and management techniques can turn a company from a place to merely put in hours and get a paycheck into a place employees love going to every day. Even subtle changes can take your company to the next level — not only to help you retain your current employees, but also to pique the interest of potential new hires.
So, how can you improve your company's work environment? Business News Daily asked business owners and experts for their best advice. Here's what they told us.
1. Hire the right staff.
"The kind of people you hire will be the ones to contribute to your work environment. So make sure you're hiring people who are professional, can work in a team and can contribute to a positive work environment, because one bad apple can spoil the bunch." – Jazmin Truesdale, CEO, Mino Enterprises
2. Let go of toxic employees.
"It's amazing to watch one bad attitude affect everyone's daily performance. I can't tell you how many times I have been thanked after letting poisonous employees go. Though it's a hard thing to do, it ultimately impacts the working environment, which can be felt by not only our employees, but also by our [customers]." – Claire Marshall Crowell, director of operations, A. Marshall Family Foods/Puckett's Grocery & Restaurant
3. Keep the office clean, comfortable and well-decorated.
"Working in a clean, attractive office can have tremendous effects on the interactions between co-workers and managers. Even if the sun can't shine into your workplace, make an effort to provide a relaxing atmosphere with comfy furniture, working equipment and a few extra-mile amenities. It might not seem cost-effective at first, but the change in attitude is visceral among staff members when they know you care enough about them to invest in their well-being." – Mike Canarelli, CEO and co-founder, Web Talent Marketing
4. Make sure your office is well-lit.
"My best advice is [to] make sure all your employees work in a space with natural light. Poor lighting can cause significant levels of eyestrain, blurred vision and headaches, none of which are conducive to a productive work environment. On the flip side, a well-lit office can keep your employees energized throughout the day. If natural light isn't an option in your office, then try to use light fixtures with adjustable filters." – Taylor Johnson, hiring manager and business plan expert, Business Plan Today
5. Have a relaxation space.
"Provide a segregated place for employees to unwind — employees need breaks and need to have some form of social interaction. Providing a location for employees to unwind without disturbing employees at work will help morale tremendously." – Josh Lindenmuth, chief information officer, Payce
6. Make a dry-erase board wall.
"Make an office wall a dry erase board. It's productive, encourages on-the-spot brainstorming and is a great visual of the work we are doing. Employees will take photos on their phone of the board to refresh their memory of action items when they meet in smaller teams; it keeps important work front and center, and the [enthusiasm] flowing." – Vic Keller, founder, ZAK Products
7. Make your employees comfortable.
"We let people choose their own desks — sitting or standing — and chairs and make it easy for them to purchase things like exercise balls and plants on the company dime. We also trust our employees to manage their own time. They're free to take breaks to play games or just recharge as necessary." – AJ Shankar, CEO and founder, Everlaw
8. Encourage personalization.
"Giving each employee the space and freedom to customize their area to their personal work preferences is one of the best ways to create a better work environment. Instead of just having the same issued everything, give everyone a budget to customize their own setup." – John Turner, CEO, Users Think [10 Inspiring Must-Follow Home Office Pinterest Boards ]
9. Foster collaboration.
"Whether your office is cabins, cubicles or open-concept, be sure to have small and large spaces that employees can collaborate in. This will spark team creativity and camaraderie and indirectly encourage people to be more invested in their work and their colleagues." – Slisha Kankariya, marketing director, Four Mine
10. Eat together.
"One simple way to help improve the relationship of employees with each other is by having meals together. You do not need to spend a lot of money. You can simply have pizza, sandwiches or Chipotle. Do a short presentation. Leave most of the time for employees to chat with one another." – John Crossman, president, Crossman & Company
11. Hold fun activities during the workweek.
"Each month, we incorporate employee-suggested events to bond as a company. Such events include monthly birthday celebrations with ice cream socials, baseball opening-day cookouts, Easter-egg hunts, Kentucky Derby races and so on. Each event takes place during work hours to break up the week and thank employees for their hard work, while improving company culture." – Michelle Burke, marketing strategist, Model55
12. Let employees move around.
"Don't ever let employees feel like they're chained to their desk. Sitting at a desk does not equate to billable hours or even doing your best thinking. Move around, walk to the corner coffee shop, sit outside for an hour, cut out early and work from a bar. Having the freedom of mobility leads to better thinking." – Prentice Howe, president and executive creative director, Door Number 3
13. Focus on wellness.
"Creating a work environment that places emphasis on wellness is the key to success. We instituted 'Wellness Wednesdays,' where employees participate in yoga and meditation, as well as a 'bring-your-pet-to-work day,' which is an incredible stress reliever. These small additions make a significant impact on happiness and productivity, and really help to encourage a light-hearted attitude and mind-set among employees." – Jennifer Adams, CEO, Jennifer Adams Worldwide
14. Have face time with employees.
"In this modern world of technology, we forget that face-to-face meetings with employees are important. They need to meet with you from time to time, and you need their feedback from time to time. Emails can be so impersonal and imply messages that are not there. Talk to your employees. You might be surprised at what they have to say." – Sue Procko, owner, SPPR
15. Rephrase instructions.
"Replace 'You should' with 'Let's' when giving direction to staff who report to you and to your peers. It's a simple but effective way to create a sense of shared mission. It works everywhere from big strategic plans to small projects. Once you create that mind-set, you can break the mission down into specific tasks and make it clear who is accountable for what. The result is a better, more engaged environment." – Christopher G. Fox, founder, Kindness Communication
16. Don't overload your employees.
"One of the top reasons people quit their jobs is because management demands that one person do the jobs of two or more people. It is crucial that you do not give your employees more than they can handle. If you suddenly have a high burst of work that needs to be completed, outsourced employees can complete the tasks." – Bill Peppler, managing partner, Kavaliro
17. Be flexible.
"I encourage my employees to schedule their personal lives the way a CEO does. Unless it conflicted with a meeting, I wouldn't think twice about scheduling a mid-day doctor's appointment or more trivial personal appointment, such as a haircut, and I encourage them to do the same. A trusted hardworking employee should be able to schedule their day like a CEO. Why should they cram every one of life's inconveniences — [like] oil changes, etc. — into a brief period of time before or after work?" – Ashley Judge, president, The Funtrepreneur
18. Be transparent.
"From promotions to pending changes in business, employers have to operate openly and frankly. Allow your employees to be adults and react with information as it presents [itself]. It prevents the usual misunderstandings and rumors that stem from not being open and honest about business matters." – Janine N. Truitt, chief innovations officer, Talent Think Innovations
19. Train employees properly.
"Most employees want to do good work. Give them the proper tools, and they'll succeed. This means clearly letting employees know what they are responsible and accountable for, communicating regularly with workers so everyone is on the same page, and developing opportunities for employees through training and education to better themselves — professionally and personally." – Noelle Nelson, business consultant and author, "Make More Money by Making Your Employees Happy"(MindLab Publishing, 2012)
20. Have a device policy for meetings.
"Ever been in a meeting with the guy who won't stop texting? Limit what's acceptable in meetings. My policy is to stay in the moment, and if you have nothing to contribute to a meeting, then don't go. No matter what kind of office you have, you must be present to win." – Sean Higgins, co-founder, ilos Videos
21. Give feedback.
"Employees are motivated and feel valued when they're given positive reinforcement and shown how their work contributes to the success of the business. This means going beyond a 'Hey, good job' and making the time to regularly offer employees specific feedback on how their work is feeding into the broader business objectives." – Dominique Jones, vice president of human resources, Halogen Software
22. Be open to feedback, too.
"When you involve your staff in decision making in an effort to create a better work environment, they feel valued. Don't be afraid to ask employees for their opinion on a new benefit offered or what they think of a new client project. Even asking an entire department to provide feedback on their team leader can be a productive way to involve staff members." –Samantha Lambert, director of human resources, Blue Fountain Media
23. Say "thank you."
"Create a culture of appreciation. Appreciation is so vital. Employee recognition done right can transform and elevate an organization. It ignites enthusiasm, increases innovation, builds trust and drives bottom-line results. Recognize the importance and value of the team and the contributions of its members. Even a simple 'thank you' after an employee goes above and beyond on a project, or puts in a series of late nights, goes a long way." – David Sturt, executive vice president, O.C. Tanner Institute