It's no secret that having happy, motivated workers is a key part of any business' success story. With some simple, tried and tested measures, any business can harness the power of positivity...
1. Create a positive work culture
Studies have shown the many ways that building a positive work culture can benefit both employees and employers.
Flexible hours, open workspaces, greater benefits and rewards and other perks are all significant contributors to improving both employee engagement and wellbeing.
A positive work culture should emphasise a greater work-life balance, and management should be characterised by frequent communication - offering feedback, praise and recognition for a job well done.
And it's also important, as an employer, to play a strong role in career development and help employees to do more of the work they find the most interesting and best suited to them and their skills.
Happy employees are not only less stressed and more productive, they’re also great advert for your business. If your workplace is known for its enjoyable atmosphere and its positive attitude towards its staff, this draws the kind of positive attention that money just can’t buy.
When people hear about what day-to-day life is like at your organisation - this appeals to both potential customers and talent alike - and makes them more likely to identify with your business and engage with you.
2. Get the team playing fun office games
For employees, the fun doesn’t just have to start on Fridays – one of the best ways we can think of to help boost morale is to introduce some fun activities or challenges in to your daily working lives.
Not only will this simple initiative feed back in to helping to build your positive culture in the workplace, but studies show that the effects of taking quick, regular breaks are not only beneficial to both your physical and mental health, but they can also work wonders for your productivity too.
Workplace fun and creativity go hand in hand, and encouraging employees to spend time with their colleagues allows them to better get to know each other in a relaxed and fun environment. This is one of the easiest ways to improve communication and break down siloes.
You don’t have to look for long online to find suitable ideas for office games, but try to keep them focused on a particular objective – such as encouraging employees from different teams to interact, testing problem solving (or analytical) skills or giving people a chance to stimulate their imaginations and let their creative juices flow.
3. Venture out for an office team-building day
Just like office games and activities - whatever direction you decide to go in - team building can play a big part in improving the collaboration and communication between employees.
Team building can be a treat (think about the winner’s rewards on The Apprentice), an opportunity to learn new skills or sharpen existing ones, it could even be something as simple as a lunch out together, or as unusual as you can imagine.
They needn’t cost an arm and a leg either – for example, a treasure hunt leading to low-cost rewards such as sweets or novelty trophies will bring the team together as much as an more expensive prize. After all, it's about the collaboration of working towards a mutual goal that should be the main focus of team-building activities.
Alternatively, hand over your team for a day to volunteer for a worthy cause. Lots of charities offer opportunities for corporate visitors, although it’s worth noting that popular choices may be booked up well in advance.
For those volunteers, consider whether you can introduce a programme of paid leave, so their time comes from the business rather than their own holiday allowance. This helps further establish your positive company culture and social responsibility that engages employees, customers and prospective hires alike.
4. Schedule regular fun office activities
Activities can provide a similar morale boost to games, but they also serve a different purpose – and, with that, they offer a different set of benefits for employees.
No matter how small your business, there shouldn’t be any barrier to building a calendar of events that will help with employee engagement throughout the year.
Lots of businesses in the UK are taking advantage of the growing number of services that can come along to your business on a one-off or more regular basis to provide a staff-boosting activity – such as yoga classes, fitness sessions or sports massage to name a few.
By giving employees an opportunity to incorporate activities the work day, you can help strike a blow for that all-important work-life balance. Not to mention taking steps to looking after employees physical and mental wellbeing.
You may even have one of those multi-talented people working for you who can provide their services free of charge to the company – either by inviting them to share their passion with their colleagues or allowing them to take payment from those colleagues who want to participate.
Another idea would be to invite members of different teams to speak to a wider audience about what it is that they do. Similarly, you could set up an initiative where employees can sit in on the meetings of other teams.
Schemes like those, along with mentoring and job-shadowing opportunities, are a great way to improve cohesion between the different parts of your business and may help employees better understand their role within it.
5. Increase productivity at work
Research shows that UK SMEs could significantly increase productivity - to the tune of £57 billion a year - if they were to boost their productivity to the same levels as some of our European counterparts.
A report by NatWest found that the measures that would have the biggest impact on productivity – investing in workplace culture, benefits packages and employee rewards for good performance – have been implemented by less than a third of the SMEs in this country.
Other measures cited by the same report include rewards for good performance, career development and guidance and investing in the right equipment and technology so your employees can get the job done efficiently.
This further underlines how important it is to invest in your employees, your business and, in turn, your workplace culture. By increasing productivity, not only do you see a return in profits and business growth – but a productive environment will help to motivate employees, boosting morale and improving office atmosphere within your organisation.
6. Allow some music in the office
Scientific research has proven some surprising links between listening to music and improving wellbeing. From reducing stress and anxiety, to aiding memory and even improving immune function, it’s an area that has been studied extensively over the years.
On top of these health benefits, music can also increase motivation and boost productivity. So, it’s also a great tool to help improve the positive culture in your workplace.
Whilst we get that it’s not suitable for every working environment – and individual tastes can make recommending a one-sized-fits-all policy impossible - there’s no doubting that a little background music can go a long way.
Just remember, if you're playing music in the workplace (with the exception of royalty-free music) – be it an office, shop, studio, or something else – chances are you’ll need a license to do so. The most popular of these is TheMusicLicense from PPL PRS, which enables you to obtain a license to legally play almost any song ever made, worldwide, in your workplace.
As SMEs, it's up to us to show what we think workplace culture should be like in the 21st century. While we may not be able to do everything that the big players can, we can still set our own example and make our businesses attractive to customers, employees and investors.
Hopefully you've been inspired by some of these ideas to help boost positivity and have fun in the office – something that's not only beneficial short term, but will help to improve a whole host of areas of business in the long term too.
Another way to motivate employees and show their efforts are valued is to offer recognition for high-quality work, meeting of KPI goals, and other successes – for more detail on how you can do this, get access to our guide to how to offer rewards and incentives to employees.