Did you know that if you begin working in an office environment at 18 years old and stop working at 67 years old, you will spend approximately 92,120 hours at work? That’s a lot of time!

Throughout that time, any given company will see their fair share of new employees, but there may also be a good amount of employees who love the company and will stay for years or even decades.

As an employer, you may be searching for new ways that you can create an office environment that makes people want to come into work, and we have four ideas that may increase employee retention, promote a healthy work environment, and boost productivity.

1. Organization is key

There’s nothing quite as frustrating as going for a pack of printer paper, and it’s never in the same spot. Or when you have an important meeting and your assistant doesn’t know where the files are for that client.

One of the top elements of a happy and productive office environment is organization. When you are trying to organize your office space, it needs to be divided into five areas:

  • Paper: The way you organize your files and documents (actual paper or digital) should be cohesive and logical. The name of your document should reflect what draft it is and the name of the document should be the same across all drafts. It can help if you include the date the document was created.
  • General Stuff: When your office is organized, you will never have to worry about ordering more office supplies than you need. Have a designated section (particularly a large cabinet or even a dedicated closet) of your office for office supplies. By having all of this in one area, you can easily take inventory and not worry about running out of printing paper or having a bunch of thumbtacks with no use.
  • Furniture Layout: The way your office is laid out can greatly impact the feeling of organization. If you keep filing cabinets that are frequently used across the room, time is going to be wasted going to the cabinet and going back to the desk. Keep furniture that is frequently used together for ease of use.
  • Electronic Information: Modern offices are ditching paper and relying on digital documentation and filing methods. By keeping your office paper-free can access your documents quickly and easily from any computer you permit to access these files to. Completely digitizing your office may be a bigger hassle than you can take on, but there’s nothing wrong with working toward it.
  • Time Management: How employees manage their time is incredibly important in the organization. Setting up a to-do list of when certain activities should be conducted can greatly increase productivity. Don’t be afraid to adjust those times to fit the current work atmosphere.

2. Remodel your office environment

The way your office looks can play a big role in how happy your employees are. No one wants to spend a lot of time in a dark office that smells like someone forgot a tuna fish sandwich in their desk.

Sometimes to make an office feel more welcoming and less like a dungeon is by giving it a facelift. If you have a waiting area, putting in a modern rock panel made of stone veneer can add some sophistication to your working environment.

You can also put in new flooring and give the walls some fresh paint – but keep in mind the colours you choose will have an effect too!

When the furniture in the office is outdated or showing serious signs of wear and tear, invest in new desks, comfortable chairs, and lighting. If your office space allows, you can even create a comfortable seating area where people can gather, chat, and bounce off ideas.

Oh, and if your heating and cooling system tends to be on the fritz more often than not, you want to invest some money in that. When employees are too hot or too cold, they aren’t going to be very productive, nor will they be happy – after all, happy workers are productive workers!

3. Become an advocate for mental health

Did you know that 9.5% of adults in the US suffer from a depressive illness? The mental health of your employees is critical when you are trying to improve the office environment because when an employee isn’t in the right frame of mind, they aren’t going to be very productive, but they can also create an unsafe work environment for other employees.

As an employer, you can hire safety specialists such as a safety director, safety manager, or a safety coordinator to help you increase the safety of the workplace.

If you don’t want to hire safety specialists, you can just encourage employees to reach out to you or Human Resources if they are having any troubles. By creating a safe place where your employees can talk and express themselves, they may feel more at ease at work and with their co-workers.

It’s worth noting that the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requires that employees with a mental illness be offered provisions that will help them cope. This can be a change in duties, a reduction in the number of hours they need to work, or even being able to work at home.

4. Encourage education

By having the ability to further their education, whether it is to learn basic financial fundamentals or basic HTML, employees can learn things that will help them further their career, or just learn new and interesting hobbies.

In an article on Inc.com, small companies are taking a page out of McDonald’s Hamburger University playbook and are introducing that “University” feeling to their education efforts.

A $21.8 million job search website, SnagAJob.com, has created Snagger U. and offered 62 classes employees could “enrol” in. Each class would last for an hour or two during the workday, and the employees were taught things by in-house experts. Some of these courses included how to set goals for work and life, women’s self-defence, peer coaching, and even how to play poker, along with work-related courses!

Of course, you can also encourage your employees to take courses at local universities that will directly affect their work. You can even offer reimbursement or other incentives. Think about it this way, the more you invest in improving your employee’s skills, the better off your business will be! It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Andrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in almost every industry from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He is currently writing a book about scaling up business and his experience implementing lean methodology.