There are many factors that can impact productivity throughout the working day, so it's no surprise that small business owners find it challenging to keep their teams motivated. To help you get started, Viking's Sam Cropper highlights five ways to address the productivity and overall wellbeing of your staff.
1. Mental health support
There's lots of research that suggests wellbeing and productivity are closely linked. In fact, the Mental Health Foundation found that prioritising employee wellbeing leads to a 12% increase in productivity. As such, addressing wellbeing and mental health within your small business should be the first step you take when improving productivity.
Viking's own survey of over 10,000 employees shows a high number of respondents have faced problems with mental health while at work, with 6 in 10 workers saying they have negative thoughts about their job at least once a week. Also, 65% of the managers involved in the surveys said they have been approached by an employee concerning mental health issues. Despite this figure, over two-thirds of managers said they’ve had no helpful mental health training.
Viking’s research also offers insight into why employees are having mental health problems at work. Half of the respondents said they regularly have to work over contracted hours, and 43% said they feel an unpleasant level of pressure to succeed at least once a week.
Piling stress and unmanageable workloads on employees is likely to lead to problems with workplace mental health and have a negative impact on productivity. Allowing employees to go home on time and switch off from the office will boost wellbeing and motivation during office hours. Providing a fair workload and the opportunity to speak up should they need help will also stop employees having negative thoughts while at the office.
2. Flexible working hours
Many workers highlighted the shape of their working day as an area of possible improvement for employees. There were some popular responses when it comes to ideal office hours throughout the week. Half said they want to work a four-day week and 60% said they would like to work from home.
Contrary to the traditional nine-to-five, the ideal working day was said to be 8am to 6pm. As an employer, you’re never going to be able to please everyone, so one way you could boost morale would be to offer flexible working hours. Letting employees have some freedom to choose when they work will help them to balance work with their personal lives and make them feel as though you value and trust them.
Lunch breaks also make up an important part of the working day. They offer employees the chance to take a break from their workload, relax, and have a bite to eat. One-hour lunch breaks are the most popular, and the activities of choice were eating (52%) and reading (28%).
The impact that lunch breaks can have on productivity throughout the day are often underestimated. As a result, two-thirds of people admitted to working through their lunch breaks at least once a week. It's important to encourage your staff to actually take a break over lunch, even if it's just for a short while. This will have a tangible impact on their overall productivity as the day goes on.
In addition, make sure you let employees know that it's okay for them to take a couple of shorter breaks throughout the working day if that suits them better. This means that your staff can stop and recharge themselves when they need to as opposed to feeling obliged to only take a break around midday.
3. Physical health in work
Results showed that 8 in 10 people say they’re worried about the effects sitting at work will have on their health, showing the importance of considering employees' physical health in the workplace. Health concerns may come as no surprise, with 58% of respondents saying they spend over five hours at their desk every day.
Whilst the research highlights health concerns from employees, it also shows room for improvement from employers. One-third of respondents say their employers don’t do enough to help them with their health, and 43% don’t feel informed about how to protect their health at their desk.
If employees are worrying about their health and wellbeing at work, it's likely that this will have an impact on their productivity. Take measures to demonstrate that you're invested in your employees' overall health. For example, let employees know that you'll subsidize regular eye tests for those in front of screens all day. You can also consider offering the opportunity for workers to stand at their desk or take regular 30-minute breaks to stretch their legs.
This comes at little cost to an employer but will reduce health worries amongst employees. Showing you care about the health and wellbeing of your employees will also boost your reputation as a great place to work.
4. The right office environment
Providing the right office environment for employees can make a big difference when it comes to productivity at work. If employees are happy where they’re working it's likely they’ll be more motivated when it comes to their workload and job overall.
Viking's research gave further insight into what employees would like to see in their office space. There was one motivator that stood out above the rest, and that was artwork. 54% of people said they think art should be in every workplace, half think that art reduces workplace stress, and 53% said art would make them feel happier.
Considering it has such an effect on employee attitudes towards work, having some prints or artwork displayed in the office should be a no-brainer for employers. This can also be a great way to provide a visual representation of your overall brand, and can be used as a way to fortify your brand image in customer waiting areas or meeting rooms.
Value your employees' wellbeing, and in turn you’ll be rewarded with a boost in productivity and a better brand image. Offering the improvements highlighted in this article don’t come at a high cost but could have a big impact. Not only will they boost productivity, but they will also make your business a better place to work, improving both recruitment and staff retention.
About the Author
Sam Cropper is a content creator for office suppliers Viking Direct, specialising in HR and business. Founded in 1960 in Los Angeles, California, Viking now operates in over 11 countries worldwide, and employs 1300 people in the UK and Ireland. The company has built its success by selling great products at great prices whilst offering customer service that is regarded the best in the industry.