happy employees

This is a guest post by Heidi Cardenas.

There’s no denying that employees who are happy with their surroundings are happier at work. And by extension, employees who are more physically comfortable and aren’t distracted by awkward desk arrangements or back pain from uncomfortable chairs are able to be more focused on work, states Wellnomics.

As entrepreneurs and small business owners will find, attention to the work environment is important. From ergonomics to color and light, to amenities like coffee stations and snacks, all of these aspects of an office help create happy employees and thus pay off for the bottom line.

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Entrepreneurs and small businesses can use simple ergonomics principles to keep employees comfortable and safe while working. Assistive ergonomics for work areas increase productivity by making it possible for employees to work without being distracted by physical discomforts.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons cites a variety of factors that cause distraction such as discomfort, pain and injury, all of which affect productivity. Some office items that could cause these problems include chairs set at the wrong height for an employee’s size, work surfaces and equipment at inconvenient heights and work tools and accessories that are not located within easy reach.

Ergonomics Plus, an injury prevention team, sees the measurable effects of work environments designed to allow for good posture, fewer motions with less exertion and tools and equipment within reach. Plus, making employees feel better by paying attention to health, safety and comfort improves engagement, as Wellnomics found when they reviewed current literature on ergonomics studies.

For example, light is an important factor of ergonomics. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) presents numerous studies showing the positive effect of natural light on both physical and mental condition. Therefore, you should pay attention to the amount and type of light in work spaces. Window treatments that let in natural light, skylights in common areas and soft lighting will produce positive responses including improved mood, reduced stress and better attention to detail.

Color It Productive

Applying a fresh coat of the right color paint dramatically affects people, claims color psychologist Angela Wright. You can use color psychology to enhance an office or other work environment to match the wanted atmosphere. For example, blue is a calming color and enhances clear communication; therefore, blue tones are good for meeting and conference rooms. On the other hand, green is restful and stimulates feelings of balance and reassurance, which is important for those working with people in need or with clients coming in for assistive services. Finally, orange is stimulating and fun, a good color to use for creative work.

Coffee Stations and Snacks

It’s no secret that the coolest companies like Google have free food and snacks available in the office. They know that happy employees are productive employees, and they work hard to make this happen.

While free food all day every day may be out of reach for small businesses, they can get the same profitable results with amenities like coffee and snack stations. But remember that not everyone likes the same stuff, so if you're going to set up these stations, make sure to have a couple of options available for people who don't like plain potato chips or black coffee. Keurig coffee makers are perfect for offices because they have a ton of flavor varieties in single serve cups. A cup of coffee may provide a morning pick-me-up for employees after a long commute while snacks may provide employees a chance to socialize and re-energize in the tiring afternoon hours.

If a never-ending supply of free snacks isn’t an option, survey employees to find out what they’d like best. Then, set a budget to provide donuts on Fridays or bagels on Mondays or even healthy afternoon break-time snacks like almonds or sunflower seeds. Regardless of how much you spend, make employees feel like they are valued and that their happiness matters.


Heidi Cardenas is a freelance writer with a background in human resources, business administration, technical writing and corporate communications. She specializes in human resources, business and personal finance, small-business advice and home improvement. She enjoys creating informational content for clients including blog posts, articles, white papers, case studies and talking points.

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