Is your office in a rut of negativity? Is it difficult for your office to shake the spirit of moaning? Then it sounds like your office is lacking office morale. The Gallup Organization estimated that there are 22 million actively disengaged employees costing the economy as much as $350 billion dollars per year in lost productivity including absenteeism, illness, and other low morale issues.
Luckily for them, an Office Ninja is just the person to provide a boost for the company.
A disclaimer before we begin, though: no person can change an individual’s brain chemistry. It sounds silly to even say that, but it’s an important reminder. Office Ninjas can help to create a positive place for employees. In the words of wise Ninja Jennifer M., “You can’t convince people that they’re happy. Happiness comes from within.”
And it’s true. Studies show employees who like their jobs are twice as likely to be reporting strong relationships, effective money management, good health and engagement in their communities and lives compared to those who feel disengaged and unhappy at work. Employees who dislike their jobs on the other hand, are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression.
The other thing Office Ninjas should know is that office ruts can be the result of working too hard. According to John Gaspari, a licensed clinical worker who specializes in employee morale and workplace issues, our brains are programmed to do well under pressure. Whether it’s the final play in a football game or a scramble to finish a project by midnight, we can do it if we enter survival mode. Here, the brain is more primitive and the higher functions recede or freeze up while we get to safety, so to speak.
The problem comes from staying in survival mode for too long. Over the course of a week or a month in this mode, there are lots of negative consequences for mental and physical health. Since this part of the brain doesn’t nurture creativity or innovation or even quality thinking, it leads to negative thoughts.
So what can a Ninja do? First up, you have to get everyone out of survival mode—but that’s easier said than done. While there’s no magical formula for job satisfaction or happiness, the good news is that there are ways to make the office a more positive place. Here are five tips.
1. Feng shui, please
There’s nothing like a makeover to raise morale. It doesn’t even have to cost too much (or any) money. You can reassign seats frequently so that workers have new desk partners, keep the temperature between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit and encourage remote work once or twice a week.
If your company is willing to shell out some money, encourage them to use smart strategies to cut down on noise. Loud noise raises our levels of epinephrine—a hormone that invokes the fight-or-flight response. Some strategies might be investing in noise-cancelling headphones, lining walls with sound-absorbent material, soaking up street sounds with thick curtains and white noise machines. If you’d like a more affordable option to “healthier” furniture, try buying standing desks that can adapt to your spaces. (Check these out.)
2. Get moving
Studies show that employees who participate in physical activity throughout the day tend to be more engaged and energetic on the job than those who stay glued to their chairs. Getting a move on throughout the workday improves overall cardiovascular health, provides a healthy distraction from stressful office situations, and can even enhance workers’ capacity to tolerate physiological stress.
There’s nothing like group accountability for fitness—you could encourage your company to buy pedometers or Fitbits (or just use a smartphone’s health app) to monitor how many steps employees take during work. To inject some fun, you can make it a mini competition where the employee with the most steps gets a small prize (as long as they also get their work done, of course!).
3. Celebrate work-anniversaries
Work anniversaries are a marker of your time together at a company. According to a survey from Globoforce, 82 percent of respondents would feel good if people noticed and recognized their work anniversary, with 36 percent of respondents even saying a work anniversary would make them feel valued. Ask employees how they’d like to celebrate and put the plans in motion. And if no one’s super interested, at least celebrate your company’s birthday. Cake for everyone!
4. Potlucks for good luck
What brings us together more than food? Food is great. Food at work, paid by work, is even better. Crowdsource ideas from the staff or choose a theme and have a little food party on a Wednesday. It breaks up the week, it’s relatively inexpensive and it lets people mingle. Encourage talk that isn’t about work and for people to stay there for half an hour or so before retreating back to work.
5. Work-appropriate love letters
How do you fight negativity? With positivity. Whether it’s artwork, company successes or letters of love, positive messages can make a real difference. As Ninja Karen S. said, “Several years ago when our morale was dipping, our team leaders had an idea for each of us to write something positive about each other. Those sentiments were then turned into a poster that could be hung in our office for low morale days. We could look at it and know that our colleagues each saw something positive in us.” Well said!
How do you boost morale in your office, Ninjas?