Remember in school when you were either an early bird or a late bird?
Essentially, you got to choose what time you wanted to come and leave school depending on your sleeping habits. Personally, I was a late bird, which meant a glorious more hour of sleep. This, in turn, guaranteed a relatively well-functioning human being capable of not falling into a puddle of paint. However, this program swiftly ended after Kindergarten when you had to get your life together.
But why can’t this type of adaptability apply later in school? Studies have shown that students, especially in their teenage years, benefit from a later start time as they are biologically more coherent, focused, and, therefore, able to maximize learning opportunities in class.
However, such isn’t the case for private companies. Companies, especially those with less than 100 employees, have the flexibility to structure their company culture as they see fit, to maximize the productivity of employees. The question is how to do it without burning employees out leaving a vestige of high turnover rate, nasty company culture, and all around bad vibes in an employee’s work and personal life.
The trick is to become adaptable, take a cue from psychological studies, and become creative in the way you work.
Many companies are experimenting with various workplace changes like Samsung ‘s new office designs to promote socialization. These seemingly accommodating features are the result of thoughtfully analyzed studies to make sure employees have a more active role in a company’s output, rather than having them succumb to becoming a sterile hub of worker bees.
So what’s the psychology behind these tactics?
For one, a study from the Cranfield School of Management found that workers with flexible hours worked more intensely than those with set hours, and oftentimes put in more hours. The end result was that employees experienced high job satisfaction, lower stress levels, and greater company loyalty.
Uniqlo, for example, is testing out a 4-day work week with employees putting in 10 hours of work each day in exchange for having more days to spend with family, friends, and an overall better work-life balance. This move is particularly effective in retention, where in the retail industry, the turnover rate is especially is problematic.
Other components in productivity relate to autonomy, which is what Zappos focused on when implementing their controversial Holacracy system allowing employees to self-manage. The idea goes beyond accountability but gives the employee the tools, transparency, and support to meet their goals, as they understand the overarching goals of the company.
Think about the long-term
Employees are investments. And there is a long-term effect of the work environment, specifically, company culture, on employees.
Sure, culture is frequently thrown around in the volley of business lingo, but sit back and consider what makes a company desirable to an employee. Are they motivated by money? Sure, money never hurts but surprisingly, many traits besides income have become important factors in building a company’s brand as “employer of choice”:
- Support Systems – Managers, Leaders, etc.
Lump all of these components into one concept and you basically get company culture. It speaks volumes about how the company wants the employee to work, live, and grow.
A recent study conducted by the University of Warwick found that happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity. Creating happiness at work requires more resources, time, and effort. Companies like Google, who actively invest in employee happiness, have seen employee satisfaction rise to 37% and have managed to anchor their spot as the second most valuable company in the world.
Simply put, happy people make for a better-functioning brain. And a better functioning brain allows for more creative thinking, better problem-solving, and effective collaborating. But of course, you can’t expect work alone to make an employee happy, which explains why many companies incorporate nap pods, yoga classes and healthy meal plans into their growing list of perks, all the while restructuring the very architecture of their offices to make it more lively, social, and open.
The takeaway? Model the office like a home.
Consider the environment you want to develop them in. Entrust them to do the job while providing the necessary tools, skills and support to grow within the company. Structure work with a healthy attitude, flexibility, and creativity while understanding that anything worthwhile takes time.