How to Make Your Work Environment Enjoyable Without a Huge Investment

By Kim Bassett

We spend on average eight hours a day at work. That translates to roughly 2,080 hours per year. This means we spend about a quarter of our life each year at work. With another quarter spent sleeping and a third quarter keeping our households running, this leaves only 25 percent for fun and relaxation. It’s no wonder we run around stressed all the time, feeling as if there’s no time to do the things we want to do.

Having happy, less-stressed employees can be a huge benefit to employers resulting in fewer sick days,  better quality and higher employee retention.

Below are some ideas that can be implemented with great success and very little expense.

  1. Create a work family. This is a culture that starts at the top, where everyone takes care of each other. If someone is sick, we check in on them, cover for them, knowing that they will do the same for us. Provide opportunities for employees to post pictures of children or summer vacation.   Find opportunities to get the team together outside of work where they can enjoy each other’s company.  By creating a family environment, you create a culture of loyalty and peer pressure to do what’s best for each other. Cost: FREE
  2. Make it a game. Find ways to turn routine, boring work or necessary education into a game.  For example, in many businesses, it is important to rotate supplies and make sure items are not outdated.   . For     example,  I have asked  employees to bring me the most outdated items that they can find and the team who brings the most wins a pizza party. Cost: $$
  3. Celebrate the holidays. A lot of workplaces are afraid to celebrate the holidays for fear of offending the one or two that may not celebrate them. I encourage you to celebrate  . Holidays can be a great way to educate staff about diverse cultures.   This creates a family environment where employees can bring stories and traditions to work. For example, for Thanksgiving our staff decided to put up  a picture of a turkey with no tail feathers on a bulletin board.  They encouraged people to write something they were thankful for on a feather and put it on the turkey. This was so popular that the entire board was overflowing with feathers by the time Thanksgiving arrived. People were always standing around the turkey to see what new feathers were added and, more importantly, how thankful everyone was for each other.  Cost: FREE
  4. Appy Hour. Many organizations have small groups of employees that get together after work for Happy Hour.  This is usually limited to a department or division of the organization.  I suggest you periodically hold an organizational-wide Appy Hour. This is a casual after hours get-together   off site where the organization buys the appetizers.  Employees buy their own drinks.  This can be a great way to get various people or departments together that don’t typically see each other outside of work.  It is also a nice treat after a long shift or day at work. Cost: $$$
  5. Say thank-you and provide feedback. Write notes of appreciation. A little appreciation and positive feedback can go a long way in helping employees be happy and satisfied. A salary raise is nice when it is an option, but after two paychecks that happy new money-glow fades if there’s no feeling of respect and gratitude at work. Money can’t fill that void. Cost: FREE
  6. Bring in surprise treats. Something as small as a candy bar or fresh fruit can brighten a person’s day, turning it from “ho-hum” to productive. Cost: $

Cost for implementing these programs is minimal, especially when you consider the cost of training a new employee Celebrating wins, even small ones, brings your team together.    Most people have to work so why not create an environment where the work is less stressful?  I encourage you to make an effort to find ways to create “fun” in the workplace.