The secret to a productive office? Happiness

15 January 2016

2 min read

There is one simple thing that small businesses can do to keep their best staff and it is not what you might think.

The secret to a productive office? Happiness (Desktop)

Pay rises, flexible working and social gatherings be damned. What workers really want, it turns out, is a few tunes in the office.

Music has topped the bill in a new report, which looks into the best workplace morale­boosting tactics, followed by flexible hours and “chatting with colleagues”.

The research shows that it really is not that hard to make workers happy. Just a few tweaks to the workplace environment could help you keep staff turnover down. About 44% of the small business workers surveyed said that playing music would improve their working life; 41% wanted flexible hours; and 40% sought a sociable work environment.

Sage One, the payroll software business, found that more than a quarter of the UK small business personnel would be happier at work if they were offered treats.

The research goes to show how relatively small sums of money can go a really long way in staff retention. By letting your people play the music they want during their working day, you are not only likely to hang on to them for longer, they could actually be more productive as a result.

Separate research, conducted last year by Mindlab International, found that nine out of 10 workers perform better when listening to music. During the study, 88% of participants produced their most accurate test results and 81% completed their fastest work when music was playing.

Of course, music tends to work better in environments where staff are involved in data entry, creative projects or on sales floors. It is less helpful for work that requires high levels of problem-­solving.

The Sage One study also debunked a few myths about what staff really want at work. Just 12% cared about pictures, plants or other decorations, showing that office surroundings may not be as important as the interior design experts would have us believe.

What the report does not talk about, however, is all the free measures that small business owners can take to boost morale.

It is easy to say “well done” when someone has done a great job. It is free(ish) to give loyal workers their birthday off – and this is a strategy that has paid off for fast-growing companies such as Timpsons, the key­cutting chain.

Make sure that you have a policy of promoting staff from within to show your people that they are not going to be stuck in a career rut, and that hard work is rewarded.

Take some time to think about the small, incremental improvements that you can make to the lives of staff. Replacing good people is time-consuming, costly and can put emotional strain on small teams.

It is easy to make a start: consider a team playlist on Spotify or any of the other streaming networks, buy in some decent cakes, and push flexible hours up the work agenda. It is the way forward for having happy staff.

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