How to create a pleasant working environment

We recently conducted a modest survey into the sustainable employability of employees. What did it turn out to be? The work environment plays a major role in that employability. A pleasant workplace is considered very important, because it has a stimulating effect. But what exactly do we mean by a great workplace? And how can you, as an HRM employee, contribute to this?

In the past decade, companies, government bodies and healthcare organisations have all set up open-plan offices without fixed workplaces. This is based on the idea that an open-plan office improves mutual communication and stimulates cooperation. It would also enhance creativity and productivity. In 2011, organizational psychologist Mathew Davis studied 100 studies of open office spaces. This showed that there are indeed advantages. This makes employees feel more part of the organisation and the team. But there is another side to it: employees also experience more stress, less concentration and less motivation.

Of course, everyone is different. And everyone has different requirements for their workplace. But the important thing is this:

1. Offer space for individuality

People find it important that they can express their individuality in their workplace. You can also see this in open plan offices. Many people involuntarily choose a fixed place. And little by little they create their own environment, with personal items and a picture of the children. People are naturally closed off. Because that feels good, comfortable and safe. So offer the opportunity for this. For example, that people can take some of their own stuff and put it there.

2. Provide a comfortable workplace

A comfortable workplace ensures that people can do their work better. This helps them to get into a better flow and to work more pleasantly and efficiently. It is annoying if the PC often falters or if a pen is hard to find in the entire building. And if it takes weeks for a broken office chair to be fixed, that doesn’t make you a happy employee. In the end, all such things – big and small – are demotivating. And that, in turn, is at the expense of productivity. Also make sure that employees can get enough (sun) light and fresh air. And that they literally have room to move. For example, a sit-stand desk can work well, although standing all day is not good either. So don’t chase every hype and go with common sense.

3. Stimulate movement

Of course, employees also have their own responsibility. Motivate them to take the stairs more often. To get some fresh air in between. Or even to take a power nap. The latter is especially important for older employees. As an HRM, create the possibilities for this. It turns out that people can only work with concentration for seven minutes at a time, after that we have to do something else for a while. If I have a complicated job that I can’t quite manage, I walk away and wash the dishes. My attention is then focused on something else: the dishes that need to be clean. This often gives me new ideas. So regularly check in with yourself: how is my concentration and work pressure? And be honest with yourself.

4. Ensure a good indoor climate

The right temperature, sufficient light (preferably natural light) and a good air quality. A pleasant indoor climate contributes to people’s well-being, greater job satisfaction and higher production. Research shows that a good indoor climate increases productivity by 10 to 15%. Would you like to know more about the effect of the indoor environment on productivity and absenteeism? Then read this report from the Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland (RVO).

5. Discuss it with the employees

How do you arrange all of this as an HRM person? Ask the employees themselves. What do they mean by a good working environment? And how are they experiencing the situation now? This happens very little in practice. At the most, a small working group is set up to come up with ideas. But nothing is usually done with that. So it’s better to ask people directly. For example, by making it a regular topic in the regular work meetings. Then you can immediately encourage them to do the right things themselves. More exercise. Healthy eating. Or get some fresh air every day and catch some sunlight during the break. Small things that together can make a big difference.

Read more about sustainable personnel policy

A pleasant working environment is one of the ingredients of a sustainable personnel policy. Would you like to know how you can contribute to the continuity of your organisation with the sustainable deployment of (older) employees? You can read it in our free e-book ‘Wise with grey’.

Are there older employees in your organization who will be retiring soon? Or are you curious what else Essenburgh can do for you? Then take a look at our retirement in sight training.

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Pim Valentijn

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