You might believe your benefits package is top-notch, but would your employees agree? Possibly not: A surprising 36% of respondents to Capital One’s 2019 Work Environment Survey say that their company offers none of the benefits they expect. This, of course, can have a major impact on your workplace morale and productivity.
I promise this is not an article about wooing Millennial employees by offering back rubs, ball pits or free dry cleaning. Rather, I want to talk today about the seemingly little things that make a big difference to your people.
In fact, the Capital One survey found that some modest tweaks might be all it takes to satisfy employees of all generations at your workplace. Here are five small changes that almost any organization can make to have an immediate positive impact on employee satisfaction:
1. Offer more natural light.
What could be easier than opening the blinds and letting the sunshine in? More than half of respondents told Capital One this small change would help support their mental health and well-being—and yet 36% say they have zero connection to nature in their workspace.
If your current setup doesn’t maximize the available natural light, consider reconfiguring your space so that more people have access to the rooms with a view; for example, you could turn private “window” offices into small conference rooms or collaboration spaces. Even easier? Commit to holding a few meetings outside in good weather or creating a lunchtime walking group to let the team replenish their Vitamin D.
2. Create more collaboration areas—with complementary quiet spaces.
While you’re finding ways to allow more employees to enjoy some natural light, you can rethink the variety of space options you provide. The Capital One survey found that nearly three-quarters of respondents are more creative and productive when they have access to flexible workspaces, yet 56% say their workplace configuration doesn’t encourage them to be innovative. (Although that’s down from 60% in the previous survey, so bravo to those making changes!)
While open plan offices are great for collaboration—which 77% value—don’t overlook the need for private areas, too. Nearly 90% said they work better when they can retreat for focused, heads-down work. Think about how you might move furniture a bit to create quiet “nooks” or group some comfortably chairs together for an informal meeting area.
3. Healthy up your snack options.
Free food is a tried-and-true crowd pleaser, but if you’re still serving up bitter, overcooked coffee, stale donuts and greasy pizza, you’re missing the boat. In fact, “on-site healthy food and beverage options” was the top choice in the survey for perks that support well-being. Take a gander at your vending machine or office cafeteria to see what’s being offered, and then do what you can to improve the choices. You also could host healthy potlucks or give everyone a refillable water bottle and provide cold, filtered water on tap.
4. Encourage movement.
The second top choice of wellness-related perks? Active break opportunities. I’ve already talked about walking meetings or lunch groups and how they can support increased access to nature. But if those don’t suit your location, there are other ways to help your team get their blood flowing, from simple yoga stretches in the morning to standing meetings or a few treadmill desks that employees can reserve on a rotating basis. You even could supply a few pieces of light equipment, like resistance bands or foam rollers.
5. Say thank you.
I’ve long been an advocate of thanking employees—after all, it’s free and it feels good for the thanker and thankee. I particularly enjoyed reading a recent story about a CEO who handwrites more than 9,000 birthday cards each year as a way to acknowledge and thank his team—a practice he’s kept up since 1985 (and through multiple acquisitions).
“When leaders forget about the human element, they’re holding back their companies and limiting the success of others,” he said in the article. Now that’s a sentiment we can all get behind—and a benefit sure to improve any office environment.
What small perks have you found to be meaningful to your team? I’d love to have you share your ideas below or on Twitter.