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Simple Steps to an Engaged Office


By Joseph O'Brien
Every Valentine’s Day, millions of couples self-consciously organize a romantic outing of some kind or another. And you don’t have to be a cold-hearted cynic to wonder whether many people would be better off with a ‘little-and-often’ approach – fewer grand gestures (at least those committed under the pressure of huge marketing campaigns), and more in the way of little acts of tenderness. Just like the ones UA Fanthorpe wrote about in her wonderful poem, "Atlas."

In a funny way, it’s the same with offices. Managers might think that an annual field trip or company meal should keep up morale, but it’s important not to lose sight of the smaller, day-to-day tokens of support and encouragement for an office team, reminding them of their value to the organization. Here’s a list of four that could make a small-scale – but significant – difference.

1. Regular mini-updates

Most people don’t resent working hard, being challenged or having to solve problems. They’re more likely to feel negative about being ill-informed and cut off from the context of a particular task.

At a junior level especially, employees appreciate being kept in the loop. How did that big pitch go? Did the company have a good quarter? Regular bulletins from team leaders and managers, maybe even a three-line email, can get the message across that you’re all in the same boat.

2. So fresh and so green!

It’s no great revelation that plants and flowers have numerous benefits to an office environment. But they don’t have to just act as a pleasant distraction; why not get members of the team to actively look after them? It might sound extreme, but even a light-hearted competition for the ‘best-kept’ office plant helps to ensure that people pay attention to the office environment – and it puts their competitive streak to good use, too!

3. Get everyone involved in recruiting

Just as regular updates will remind staff that they’re an important part of what your organization is currently achieving, involving a broad range of staff members in the recruiting process signals that you value their long-term contributions.

This can range from a quick meeting about how to design a job advertisement, all the way to participation in the actual interview. (Seeing how an interviewee responds to questions from someone junior to them can be very revealing.) The risks are minor, and the advantages are considerable.

4. The crap-busting hour

Everyone appreciates a clear work space. But as you know, there’s only so much that office cleaners can actually achieve, as they navigate stacks of unwanted correspondence and old equipment. A crap-busting hour puts the onus back on the people using the office, and gives them the opportunity to clear out cupboards and sort through useless clutter.

Remember, staff members may often want to do this sort of thing (for their own sanity!), but it’s not always clear whether this is a ‘proper’ use of their time. Make it official. Turn off the computers, turn on some music, and maybe even order in some pizza – it’ll be fun, cathartic and incredibly productive.

Image credits: 1) iStock Photo

Joseph O’Brien writes about office culture for Glen Cleaning.

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