When I asked my friend about this subject her answer was very blunt: “The most important thing is to throw out all your colleagues, then you can sit on the table, play some relaxing music and meditate.”
Well, she did get a few things right, relaxing music and meditation are great for lowering stress levels, but since the first and in her words the most important thing is not at all what I had in mind, we’ll need to skip this suggestion and provide you with some more functional ones.
Before we start, I just need to emphasize a few benefits of working in offices with a relaxing atmosphere:
– Greater productivity – in short, a relaxing office atmosphere brings in more revenue;
– Reduced sick leaves and days off – employees who work in offices where harmony rules like coming to work and don’t make excuses;
– Loyal employees – people stick to workplaces with great inter-personal relations;
– Improved corporate image – caring for employee’s health and wellbeing shows that a company is socially responsible.
So, how can we establish a healthy atmosphere at our company offices? I will explain the “healthy office atmosphere” plan I like the most in step-by-step narration.
Step 1: Gain Management Support
Office management is the most important link in this process. They are the ones who will directly implement the measures that will turn your “conflict zone” office into a “zen garden” one. Managers should be fully introduced to all aspects of this plan and they should give their honest opinion about each step.
Step 2: Introduce the Concept to Employees
Office employees are people who will be affected with any changes, so it’s very important for them to be informed and fully involved in creating a more relaxing atmosphere. This program will bring them plenty of good things on both the psychological and material level and they will definitely be delighted to take their part in the process.
This step should include organizing an employee focus groups whose purpose is to learn more about staff needs and employee issues that should be used for later planning.
Step 3: Planning
This process involves elaborate planning, that should include consulting different experts, from HR managers to psychologists. This step should determine the main goals of the program and the methods that will be used for reaching them. This step also includes determining the required budget.
Step 4: Determine Rewards
Employees who show exceptionally good results in this program should be rewarded, so they can serve as an example to others. Rewards can be anything from bonuses and free time to gift vouchers and small presents.
Step 5: Tracking
The program should have several important targets and the company management should determine ways to track program targets and outcomes and use collected data for further analytics.
What to include in the program:
– Employee’s support – you should build a wide network of experts that can advise employees on lowering office stress. This network should include: nutritionists, psychologists, experts from the HR department, personal trainers, etc.
– Healthy Food– the company canteen should include healthier meals. If your company doesn’t have a canteen you can promote healthy food options by: handling healthy lunch boxes, placing vending machines with healthy food options in office corridors, giving suggestions to employees where to find healthy food on their lunch break, opening a tap in restaurants and places that serve healthy meals.
– Physical exercise – arrange discounts for company employees in local gyms and encourage walking and bicycle rides to work.
– Give Employees More Time – introduce longer deadlines and be permissive towards employees who have time restrains and family problems.
Other options would be to hire a business coaching agency. I think that this is not necessary because with following these guidelines and thoroughly evaluating each step of the process you will have enough knowledge to become a business coach yourself.
Of course in the end we should listen to at least one part of my friend’s suggestion, play some relaxing music in the company offices and let employees meditate if they feel like it.