It’s no secret that unhappy workers cost employers large operating losses each year. According to a report on the state of the American workplace, unhappy workers cost the U.S. between $450 and $550 in lost productivity each year.
That is a truly staggering number. One way that employers could help to reduce these losses is by uncovering the root of unhappiness in the workplace. A survey by the British council for offices found that 97% of workers consider their workplace a symbol of whether or not they are valued by their employer. Another survey of 1,000 American workers shows how design and décor affects their employee productivity in the workplace.
This is what they found:
- American workers are not engaged – The survey found that 50% of workers are not engaged at their jobs and that up to 20% are actively disengaged at their jobs.
- Most office environments aren’t cutting it – Only 11% of workers are highly satiated with their work environment.
- Few American workplaces are optimized for success – Nearly half of workers say that their workplace design and décor has no personality. On top of this only one in four would be proud to show their office to their family and friends.
- Discomfort leads to disengaged employees – The journal of American Medical Association estimates annual losses of $81 billion in productivity, due exclusively to pain. Uncomfortable furniture is the main culprit here. Workers who report having bad furniture in the workplace are three times more likely to feel their environment hurts their productivity.
- Light is the most important factor – Workers exposed to natural light are more likely to feel comfortable in their environment and feel that environment helps their productivity. Natural light is associated with healthy sleep schedules and lack of sleep costs the US economy over $411 billion each year.
- Plants and art in the office are found to boost productivity – A study by Exeter University found people were 15% more productive when houseplants were added to otherwise sparely decorated workspaces. 85% of workers also feel that a workplace environment with plants helps to boost their productivity.
- Employees value their privacy and privacy pays off – Less than half of workers surveyed say their company provides nice spaces for either privacy or relaxation. Private spaces are important to your bottom line as well. Research from Basex found that interruptions during the workday cost our economy $588 billion annually.
Now that we’ve taken a look at exactly how office design and décor impacts productivity in the workplace, let’s explore how some simple changes can lead to a more productive office environment.
- Work on lighting – Natural light in the workplace provides many benefits. Employees that are exposed to a lot of natural lighting are more likely to feel comfortable in their environment and consider their environment to be uplifting. If you can’t add more windows, consider using natural light bulbs and open doors and windows to allow natural light in.
- Pay attention to room colors in your office – You may not realize it, but the colors around us have a profound effect on our moods and brain function. A study by the University of Texas at Austin found employees who work in white and predominantly blue-green offices report higher perceived job performance and satisfaction in their jobs. Blue colors have been known to illicit productivity as well.
- Get rid of uncomfortable furniture – Workers who said they have bad furniture in their workplace are twice as likely to consider their environment depressing and three times more likely to feel their environment hurts their productivity. Make sure your employees have properly fitted chairs and desks. Make sure computer screens are two to three feet away from where the employee sits. Monitors should at or below eye level.
Follow this advice to help ensure your employees are both happy and productive in their roles at work.
About the author: Matthew Zajechowski is a Content Strategist and Outreach Manager at Digital Third Coast.