How to Fight “Office Fever” –The Employers Perspective

Blog Post Enabling Successful Change

As far as sayings in business go, “happy employees are productive employees” is one that is almost universally recognized. New studies have recognized that happy workers are 12% more productive, one of the more conservative estimates and 3x more creative.

As a company overall, having an engaged workforce is correlated with these results:

  • In terms of operating income, 19.2% higher than companies where 50% of the workforce is disengaged.
  • In terms of earnings per share, a 147% jump from the norm.
  • A happy employee is 87% less likely to leave the organization when compared to an unhappy one with the cost of turnover is estimated at about 100% of the leaving employee’s salary.
  • 50% fewer accidents and 41% lesser quality defects.

One of the factors determining employee engagement and satisfaction at work is the workplace, both the physical and the “atmosphere” at work (friendly, hostile) which lives in the network of conversations. Given the high stakes involved in happy employees, what can the management and leadership of the company to keep employees satisfied?

One phenomenon I have been particularly interested in is “office fever.” Defined as the feeling of going crazy/feeling trapped when working in an office, it is one of the leading causes of employees’ dissatisfaction and unhappiness. It is especially felt in the fall and winter, “when the weather outside is frightful” as the old song goes, given the lack of sunlight. Coming to work in the dark and commuting after work in the dark is an experience few people look forward to. Feeling guilty about taking a break, the greige (a mixture of beige and gray walls, if you have ever been in an office, you know what I am talking about) walls, the negative conversations, gossiping, the fixed hours are all factors that contribute to “office fever.”

Going back to my question of what can you as a manager or leader do to increase employees’ satisfaction, and ultimately the bottom line? Here are some ideas:

  • Encourage employees to take breaks outside while there is some sun. Be the first to take 10 minutes so that everybody knows it is ok to do so.
  • Paint the walls a brighter, more stimulating color. Or even better, people own what they help create, have people pick their own color.
  • Provide snacks with Vitamin C and D to fight off flu and cold season and the lack of sunlight.
  • Allow employees to leave early or come in late to enjoy the few hours of sunlight. Alternatively, lamps and quick fixes can increase the amount of light in the office.
  • Manage negative conversation that can kill productive employees and make them disengaged and frustrated.

As we move towards a more flexible model of working with the digital workspace and the capacity to work anywhere, anytime, from any device; you will have more choices and a bigger arsenal to find just the best solution for each employee to be more and more satisfied at work, come with those creative ideas that you need, deliver on those unprecedented, step-change results, and avoid burnout and costly turnover.

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