How Goldman Sachs, Google, and Adobe Retain The Best Employees
No one wants to work in a drab office with no amenities. We're a society of people who get excited about free shampoo bottles at hotels. And while those "souvenirs" can be exhilarating on some primal level, an excellent lesson can be learned about what we provide employees at our offices.
Goldman Sachs has onsite medical care for preventative and urgent issues.
Google offers free gourmet food and snacks.
Adobe Systems has an indoor climbing wall for stress relief.
Every business has something that makes their office unique and enjoyable for their employees. While we can't all drop $130 million on a headquarters extension that includes a 65-foot indoor Ferris wheel like Acuity, we can make small changes to nurture a happier staff that wants to stick around.
Creating an Office Worth Working At
It all comes down to matching your company's personality to your locale. No one wants to work in the cubicles from Office Space. Even TPS reports would look better in a different environment.
Any changes to your office are going to be constrained by two key things—your location and your budget. You may not be able to afford a multi-million dollar office like the Googleplex, but sometimes even a different rental across town could be an improvement.
Decide what you want to your office to say about your business and check out these changes that will make employees want to work harder and keep at it.
1. Natural Light Improves Employee Happiness
Tear down the curtains, open the blinds, and let that light in. Adding natural light can be simple and it has great benefits.
Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that employees who worked in offices with natural light slept an average of 46 minutes longer per night than those who worked elsewhere. They also saw benefits in their physical activity throughout the day. Both of these led to increased productivity and better moods.
By tapping into natural light, your body is able to synthesize Vitamin D. Although you can get the vitamin from some food sources, the sun is the only way to get enough to feel the great benefits. Vitamin D assists with calcium and phosphorus absorption, helping to keep your bones and teeth strong. It also helps can protect you from cancer, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. Tell me you employees wouldn't appreciate that.
When exposed to sunlight, the brain also releases more serotonin. This means better moods that lead to better cooperation among your teams.
Plus, a wide range of studies claimed that rooms outfitted with light-sensing controls are able to reduce energy costs by 20 to 60 percent. So while your employees are enjoying the health benefits, your wallet gets a break from expensive energy bills.
Not all offices can support a large number of windows, but fortunately for them, Vitamin D bulbs can replace the lighting fixtures in most offices.
2. Standing Desks Keep Employees Active
While we're talking about employees' health, you can't ignore the awesome benefits of a standing desk.
With a wide range of proven health benefits, these desks promote an active lifestyle. Plus, they've shown a huge improvement in employee collaboration and productivity.
3. A Break Room is an Important Office Amenity
Employees at Google use nap pods and what do you have? A microwave that's desperate for a cleaning?
A break room needs to offer what its name entails: time away from work.
Though there is debate about the true level of increased productivity, there's no doubt that taking breaks from your work can promote creativity, efficiency, and employee health. While many businesses won't force their employees to take time away from the desk, a sweet break room can be enough to entice them.
If you have the space, there are two types of break rooms you'll want: one that promotes conversation and interaction among staff and one that lets them sit quietly. Having the option allows employees who may not have gotten enough sleep the night before to catch some quick rest, while others are able to discuss things besides work, giving them a mental break as well as a physical one.
If you've got a fridge, stock it with some beverages and snacks. It's a great upgrade from the company water cooler and you can give your employees something to fuel their efforts in case they haven't had time to hit the store themselves.
4. Plants Improve the Workplace
While brick walls and cement floors may be popular among interior decorators, they do nothing to boost creativity. If you want to jump start your team's efforts while making them happier in the process, look to mother nature.
Ok, you can keep the walls, but add live plants to the decor, and preferably ones you won't kill. A study by the University of Technology Sydney in 2010 found that having plants in the office cut tension and anxiety by 37%, depression by 58%, anger and hostility by 44%, and fatigue by 38%.
If you're fortunate enough to have access to your office's rooftop, consider planting a garden. Employees can plant their own vegetables and watch them grow daily. The interaction with plants, since it's likely much different than what they're doing downstairs, is mentally stimulating and promotes creativity.
And while your employees get to burn off some stress, your building owner reaps the benefits of lower energy costs and a safer, environmentally-friendly building. It also gives you an additional break area for your company.
Even though there are plenty of great advancements for productivity and mood improvement, sometimes, you just need to go back to the roots.
5. Let Employees Design Their Space
Your staff is spending most of their waking day inside your office. Rather than being at home in an environment where they have total control, they're at your side, working away. Give them something to make their space more personal and help them feel at home.
Start by giving your team the ability to decorate their work area however they want. If you're worried about what clients think, give them limits, but don't push back too hard. The goal is to let employees express themselves in ways that improve their work.
Companies make products like softwalls that can be arranged however your employees want, giving the office and everyone's workspace a unique vibe. Offer other materials to help them design the setup they want. Their input will give them pride in the space they've created, increasing retention and happiness.
6. Encourage Rest to Improve Employee Health
Employees who are well rested are more efficient. They're also happier, more energetic, and drastically more creative. The problem comes from the fact that many people don't sleep well at night and when you add all the busy tasks to the already strenuous schedule they work, employees don't have a lot of time for shut eye.
The National Sleep Foundation -- yes, it's a thing -- recommends taking naps whenever necessary. In fact, NASA found that military pilots and astronauts performed 34% better and were 100% more alert after only a 40 minute nap. Considering that a lack of sleep costs American companies around $63 billion a year, it's easy to justify a short nap that boosts productivity.
Google uses nap pods. Ben and Jerry's has nap offices. Zappos hosts nap rooms. Whatever you want to call yours, setting employees up to get some well-deserved rest can pay dividends in company morale and efficiency.
7. Employee Development is Important for Retention
As the owner, CEO, or whatever you want to call yourself, you've got a lot on your plate and many times, developing your employees takes the backseat to the job at hand. If you want to see dramatic growth in your retention, help your staff improve their skills.
It seems like common sense. Developing your staff so they achieve better results at a faster rate is something every manager dreams of, but when your all-star team is already doing great, it can be neglected.
Fill your shelves with books and materials that can help them grow. Find a biography you thought was useful, leave it at the office for anyone who wants to read it. Send out emails with articles or talk to local universities about classes.
What's even more useful is that you have a team. That means multiple people, with various levels of skill, and different ways of thinking. Let them challenge each other.
Use a whiteboard for real and simulated problems so employees can throw up ideas for the solution. This is great for letting veteran employees offer their wisdom while allowing the perspectives of rookies to shine at the same time.
Creating the Dream Office
Making your office a place where people want to work comes down to more than just making these changes. It requires a demonstration of caring. Fortunately, most of these changes will set you well on the way to proving you do.
These are surefire ways to improve the mood, creativity, productivity, and retention of your employees. Decide what works for your business and have at it.