As the workplace manager at Envoy, it’s my job to help get employees excited about coming into the office. In this post, I’ll share some of what I’ve learned about creating a better workplace experience after nearly a decade in this space. I’ll also show you how you can up-level the workplace experience at your company. Hint: hospitality, employee presence, and relationship-building are key.
What makes a great workplace experience?
First, it’s important to get in the right mindset. When I think of creating a better workplace, I imagine everyone—employees, the executive team, my boss, and plus ones—as my guests. I want them to feel welcomed, comfortable, and safe. And, of course, I want them to have a great time.As workplace managers, it’s part of our jobs to provide our guests with food, activities, and comfortable space in the workplace. Our work is multi-faceted and critical to enabling folks to be happy and productive while on-site. After all, the marker of a great host is returned guests. If we nail down hospitality, people are more likely to want to come back. Not only that, we’re also more likely to hear great feedback from employees about their experience on-site.
Action 1: Build relationships with employees
Frankly, building relationships in the workplace can be an entire topic on its own. However, it’ll be good to touch upon it here as the first thing you can do to improve the workplace experience. As a workplace manager, building relationships will be key to your success and promoting a positive work environment. In most cases, you are one of the first people a new employee meets on their initial visit to the office. This touchpoint can have a lasting impact on how well an employee integrates into the workplace culture. Not to mention, you’re one of the few people in the company that can develop relationships with folks on every team. This allows for opportunities to collaborate, help make connections, and impact workplace culture. Here are a few tips on building workplace relationships:
Learn who people are and address them by their names. One of the best ways to develop a relationship is by acknowledging that you know who someone is. One trick is to take attendance. At Envoy, I export each day’s attendance roster from the Envoy app and go down the list of names to check off. It’s a regular practice to mentally place a name to a face.
Ask folks for help and offer it. Asking for and offering help is a vulnerability connection. Being vulnerable with others communicates investment in each other, and in turn, translates to stronger relationships and a sense of community at the workplace.
Keep your promises. Trust is crucial when building any type of interpersonal relationship. If you can’t follow through with a promise you’ve made, make sure to communicate that. Similar to the above, trust and reliability will translate into stronger relationships and a sense of community.
Check in on people and see how they’re doing. Work doesn’t always have to be about work. Checking in on people, especially if they are new to the office, will impact your relationship with them and how well they adjust to the office. It can be as simple as asking them how they’re doing via Slack message or when you run into them in the hallway. You never know how a simple “good morning” can make someone’s day better.
Show appreciation for your colleagues. You’re more likely to build strong relationships with people for whom you show appreciation. Nurturing a culture of appreciation at work will also foster a productive culture because it helps people build confidence in their abilities and skills.
Action 2: Provide food in the workplace
LinkedIn has an article discussing the importance of providing food for the employees. They conducted surveys, interviews, questionnaires, and independent studies across multiple companies. The following were some of the findings:
55% of employees felt more appreciated by their companies, resulting in a happier culture on-site
49% felt an increase in productivity when meals, snacks, and beverages were readily available
The accumulated benefit of providing meals was a 150% return on investment
While every business is different, everyone needs to eat. You can use this as an opportunity to delight your employees. If budget is an issue, start small. You can provide one or two meals a week with some snacks and beverages. This can go a long way to make folks feel appreciated and happy on-site. Don’t forget to change it up from time to time. Not only will people’s appetites change, but people tend to get excited about food trends. Take a look at a food magazine to see what’s trending. Once you’ve decided what to try out, pilot a few snack items each week to see how people receive them. Alternatively, you can survey your employees to see what they enjoy.You can also promote a local business by offering their products each month. For example, you can source some coffee or chocolate from a nearby company. The idea is to keep people intrigued and wanting more.
Action 3: Invest in regular workplace events
Corporate events can cultivate your company’s culture and establish a comfortable environment. They don't have to be elaborate get-togethers, either. In fact, they can be as simple as a weekly or monthly happy hour. I’ve also seen companies hold small monthly celebrations for employee birthdays and bring in a chef to serve a meal to celebrate milestones. At Envoy, we do monthly outdoor and off-site happy hours. Most recently, we gathered at a food truck park called Spark Social in San Francisco, which is within walking distance from the office. It was a great opportunity for employees to catch up with each other, meet new coworkers, and generally re-engage with the workplace in a way that is safe. Think of events as an opportunity for employees to get to know each other better. It’s also a time for leadership to show appreciation for the hard work folks do day in and day out for the company.
Action 4: Follow the 5S system
I’ve long been an advocate for cleanliness and organization in the workplace. Why? Simply put, it breeds safety and operational efficiency. A messy workplace can lead to a decline in productivity, or worse, someone getting hurt on-site. Plus, going back to my hosting example, disorganization will reflect poorly on you. That’s where the 5S System comes in. 5S was developed in Japan to help manufacturing companies run efficiently. The 5S stands for sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain.
When applying this system to the workplace, it means that everything should have a home that makes sense. This includes everything from office supplies and the first aid kit to sugar-free Red Bulls and yoga mats. When someone asks where they can find an item, you should have an answer for them. Keeping the workplace clean and organized shouldn’t be on your shoulders alone. Everyone on-site should participate in keeping it clean. Folks should treat the workplace with care and respect. Consider establishing education programs to teach employees the difference between trash, recycling, and compost. Also, depending on the size of your office, you should consider outsourcing. For example, janitorial services and snack vendors can help keep the office clean and food organized.
Action 5: Get employees involved
In general, people won’t share feedback without being asked. That’s why it’s important to ask for feedback on a regular basis. Create a survey using Google Forms, for example, on a quarterly basis. This will give you and your team a pulse check on how the workplace is doing. You’ll learn what’s going well and where things can improve to create a people-centric workplace.Also, consider finding a ticketing system to manage your workplace team’s workload. In our world, there are ad hoc action items that can accumulate daily. After a while, it can be difficult to keep track of to-do’s without a system in place. A ticketing system can also provide topics to help employees see how you might be able to assist them. For example, at Envoy, these topics include:
Shipping and deliveries
Food and beverage
Health and safety
You may not cover every single topic people ask about. However, a ticketing system will streamline and help you prioritize workplace action items. Plus, it’ll help you make sure you don’t drop the ball on anything and accidentally disappoint someone.
As workplace managers, everything we do is a work in progress. Company and employees’ needs change, and we have to adapt along with them. The last action that I recommend is having a good mindset. That will be key to your success. Remember: part of your job is to provide a great experience for your guests. This means creating a safe and comfortable environment for folks. Focus on building relationships, ensuring people are well fed and hydrated, and keeping the workplace organized. These are actionable items you can work on today that will have a cumulative effect later. Finally, be patient with yourself and others! Most things don’t happen overnight—especially if you’re a one-person show. Allow relationships to build and take workplace programs one step at a time with planning and execution.
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Dave is the workplace manager at Envoy, where he manages the workplace through a hospitality lens to foster a safe and comfortable environment. Outside of work, he is a dog lover and enjoys cycling, running, and surfing, as well as cooking and photography. He lives in the sunny east bay of the San Francisco Bay Area.
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