In the industrial age, employers keeping workers happy wasn’t a top priority.
In the millennial age, however, it has become essential.
Baby boomers may shake their heads and reminisce on how, in their day, they were happy to have a job. Yes, we could argue the degree of entitlement the millennial worker has, but instead, it would better serve us to look at the benefits of keeping those employees happy.
When staff is happy, the turnover rate is lower, decreasing overhead cost. A recent CAP study showed that the median cost of replacing an employee was between 10 and 30 percent of that employee’s annual salary.
Nothing talks like money, right?
However, improvement of the bottom line goes beyond simple employee retention.
Having a healthy office atmosphere has been shown to decrease employee stress. This reduced stress increases employee engagement, which leads to more creativity and innovation, which in turn leads to higher productivity and, you guessed it, a better bottom line.
OK, so maybe there is something to this “employee happiness” thing, but how can your office achieve it?
It may be easier than you think! It turns out that a few simple upgrades to the office can show your staff that you care and improve your entire work culture.
Here are seven straightforward, low-cost office amenities Zappos has implemented to create a happier, more positive work environment. And the reasons why your office should, too!
1. A relaxed dress code
Steve Jobs pioneered the “casual office trend” by wearing his signature black turtlenecks and jeans. CEOs Mark Zuckerberg and Tony Hsieh took it a step further and turned the turtleneck into a simple T-shirt. Casual is the new corporate and allowing your employees a relaxed dress code will not only allow them to be more comfortable but keep your company in with the times. With the booming success of trendsetters like Apple, Facebook and yes, even Zappos, it’s clear that “casual corporate” won’t hold your company back, but help your employees feel empowered to move it forward.
2. Team buildings
Giving teams time to relax and get to know each other is crucial to productivity. These interactions often turn into friendships, which bring more ingenuity through collaboration. The OC Tanner Institute conducted an international survey of over 2,300 professionals and found some surprising stats: 72 percent of employees who have a best friend at work are satisfied with their jobs, compared to 52 percent who don’t have such a friend at work. Seventy-five percent of employees with best friends at work also say they feel able to take anything on, as opposed to 58 percent of those without internal friendships. Encourage your teams to go on offsite activities and even the occasional happy hour. This will move them past awkward chitchat to true comradery.
3. Office library
If you want employees who are truly all on the same page, try giving them the pages! An office library isn’t necessarily a quiet room where people go to read (though, that’s not a bad idea) but a collection of books your employees can borrow from the company. Business books, reference books, books on improving writing or coding skills, these resources can only benefit your employees. It will be providing them with information consistent with your company’s values and encouraging employee’s self-improvement. Don’t want stacks of books lying around? Audible.com provides accounts for companies so employees can download and listen to provided audiobooks.
4. Internal currency
It’s common knowledge that employee recognition increases morale, but did you also know it improves customer experience? Globoforce reported that 41 percent of companies that use a peer to peer recognition program had seen positive increases in customer interaction. Want those benefits without the stale “Employee of the Month?” Try an internal currency! Zappos.com employees give each other “Zollars” to reward everything from performance to holding a door open for someone. This Monolopy-esque money can be redeemed in its Zollar Store, a place filled with swag, raffles, and the newest tech toys. Not only does this allow employees to reward one another, but it provides one more incentive for your coworkers to be their best. They never know who may be watching and ready to reward them with some “company cash.”
5. Discounted food and drinks
Vending machines in the office are great, but why not take it a step further and offer those goodies at a discounted price? This little gesture makes your employees feel appreciated and lets them know you take their hard work (and hard-earned money) into account. Some companies go even further than vending machines and snack rooms: Zappos and 1-800-Contacts both provide a chef and talented kitchen staff who makes gourmet meals for employees at a low cost. We all need to eat and giving discounts on necessities can undoubtedly boost morale and trust within a company.
6. Relaxation areas
I can practically hear the audible sighs. I get it: You think this is a prime example of millennial entitlement. So, let’s stick to the facts. Fact: Americans are putting in more hours at the office than ever before. Fact: A short nap improves alertness, memory retention and performance. Fact: The New York Times recently cited a study where “researchers tested subjects (office workers) on their perceptual performance four times throughout the day. Performance deteriorated with each test. The subjects who took a 30-minute nap between tests stopped the deterioration in performance, and those who took a 60-minute nap even reversed it.” Designated places for employees to nap during breaks and lunches may seem like a luxury, but longer workdays are making it a necessity. Fact: This is a simple and effective way to improve the health, happiness and performance of your employees.
7. A place to be themselves
Most people struggle to find a balance between their day-to-day work and what makes them happy. No matter where people work or what they do there, the best way for them to find happiness in it is to feel as though they can be themselves. This goes beyond casual dress. It means allowing them to put a creative spin on their work, giving time and attention to their opinion, and helping the office feel like a place they belong. Allowing employees to make their desk a home away from home eases anxiety and increases ingenuity. It’s well known that the President of Pixar, Ed Catmull, encourages a personalized workspace and believes it to be one of the elements of Pixar’s success.
“Happy employees” is more than a millennial fad. There are real benefits to helping your workers feel at home. Besides boosting the bottom line, investing in the happiness of your employees promotes trust, loyalty and a belief that their contributions matters. With a little effort, you may find the best benefit of all: An improved work environment and an overall more positive company culture. In short, more happiness. That’s something you just can’t put a price on.