Your Employees Should Own the Workplace

See also: Motivating Others

Business owners across the UK are contending with unmotivated employees, stifled productivity, and rising turnover rates.

The statistics do not paint a pretty picture: over 60% of workers are not engaged during work, while only 17% describe their office environment as motivating. As a result, employment turnover rates have steadily risen since 2010.

What is the cause of this epidemic of workplace disengagement?

While a high turnover rate might leave managers and business owners scratching their heads, the solution could be simpler than you think.

Office environments may be part of the problem as drab cubicles do not inspire motivation. In fact, they convey the message that a business values its profit margin more than basic employee welfare. According to the Harvard Business Review, one culprit for employee disengagement is the lack of psychological ownership of their workspace. Indeed, research has shown that greater psychological ownership can lead to improved job satisfaction and performance.

Entrepreneurs should strive to make each member of staff feel like he or she belongs and is important to the business. By giving workers a sense of agency in their work environment, you can instil a feeling of belonging — and, ultimately, improve engagement. A motivational environment is paramount to success.

Here are three strategies you can employ to foster employee ownership of the workplace:

Collaborate When Choosing Office Décor

There are some universal tips that you should keep in mind when designing an office (for example, clear pathways), but there is also room for creative input.

  • What types of amenities do your workers want in the break room?
  • What types of indoor plants would your employees prefer?
  • Would some workers prefer standing desks?

Consider any reasonable requests.

There are a wide range of office design ideas that your employees can collaborate on:

  1. Putting suspended idea boards in communal areas can give workers an opportunity to work together, leave notes for co-workers, or simply get creative. A whiteboard or a chalkboard would be appropriate.
  2. If you have any avid painters or photographers in the office, ask if they would like to submit any items for consideration as office décor. This will help employees feel personally connected to your business.
  3. With your staff, create a collage in a prominent area featuring group shots, personal photos (such as family or pets), and snapshots of work projects that co-workers might be proud of. Alternatively, you can organize a digital collage using such photos to create a custom wall mural. Take a look at this gallery for some ideas of how custom murals can look in your workspace.

These are only a few examples of collaborative projects that can improve employee engagement.

Solicit employees for other ideas and keep an open mind! Obviously, there should be a few limitations when it comes to incorporating new ideas at the office. Keep in mind that efficiency and safety should be of utmost importance.

Give Employees Control of Personal Workspace

Business owners should strive to adopt an open office design and encourage workers to adapt their immediate environment to suit their tastes.

If you already have cubicles in place, consider investing in some remodeling. While they may be an efficient use of space, cubicles have been known to be extremely damaging to productivity. On the other hand, an open office improves interoffice communication and gives workers a chance to bond.

Regardless of your office setup, encourage workers to personalize their immediate workspaces. Items such as photographs, posters, plants, trinkets, lamps, or small fans are appropriate for work. For creative workers, there are numerous simple DIY projects they can do to express themselves and make the office feel more inviting.

Choice can bolster psychological ownership, but don’t let these freedoms inhibit productivity. Distracting or inappropriate displays, strong smells, and untidy desks can impede the work of others. Keep in mind that there should be clear rules in place for office etiquette. Establish these rules as early as possible and keep them posted in plain view. If employees find these rules to be restrictive, engage in a dialogue. If you explain your rationale behind the rules, complaints can be handled amicably.

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Have Employees Represent Your Brand

Giving staff members a sense of ownership does not merely entail allowing them to have some degree of control over the physical workspace but also the brand itself. Employees should be invited to engage in brand awareness efforts including social media posts, advertisements, and local events/promotions.

For business owners looking to get employees involved in brand awareness efforts, consider how they can contribute to content marketing. In content marketing campaigns, video reigns supreme; in fact, three out of four millennials follow businesses or brands on YouTube. Setting up a YouTube channel for your business can be a wise investment of time and resources. Videos give your company the opportunity to showcase the personality of your brand — and your employees should be a major part of that.

Not only does including employees in brand awareness efforts lead to a more dedicated and engaged workforce, it can also can transform them into brand advocates. When workers have been informed about your principles and feel involved in spreading the brand's message, they can grow to become natural brand ambassadors. We usually internally segregate personal branding from corporate branding. By getting workers involved on social media, however, this distinction can be blurred.

According to Dr Sheila E. Murphy, “Workplace motivation is your channel to greatness and your legacy for sustainable performance.” In order to build a reliable workforce, you must foster motivation. Murphy goes on to explain that leaders should think of employees as investors in the business. Taking the effort to involve employees in office layout and décor conveys that you are investing in their personal growth.

This gives workers a reason to be engaged. Granting psychological ownership of the workplace to employees will motivate them to invest their time, energy, and attention to the company. Similarly, involving them in brand awareness efforts will convert them into brand advocates. These strategies will improve motivation and lead to greater job satisfaction.

About the Author

Devin Morrissey

This article was contributed by Devin Morrissey.

Devin is a freelance writer from Daly City, CA. He writes about small business marketing and SEO. On his downtime, he enjoys experimenting with car modifications and collecting vinyl records. He also enjoys researching and writing about auto history.