You don’t need to spend a fortune to ensure your employees are happy, productive and relaxed in their working environment. Many companies are adopting a new HR culture, encouraging playfulness and creatively rewarding hard work to help drive innovation and effectiveness. Here are a few suggestions for improving your working environment.


If your staff are not client or customer-facing, then why not relax the office dress-code? A strict dress code can be inhibiting your office atmosphere. Some companies are even going as far as to declare their office a “no shoes zone”. At Gradwell we have a relaxed dress code, but our staff know to smarten up when they are going off site or having a meeting with people from outside the company.

Consider allowing flexible work schedules for people who need it, particularly parents with young children. This is standard for the majority of jobs now, so if you don’t allow flexibility your staff may look elsewhere to save money on childcare and enjoy a better work/life balance.

For most positions it is easy for staff members to work from home every now and again – this is made easier and more streamlined by using VoIP. Staff can forward their office home to a private one without the customer knowing the difference, and you can access everything you need from anywhere with a broadband connection.


This is a tricky one, as it’s difficult to know which incentives are going to motivate whom. Your best bet is to have a mix of incentives for different areas of work.

If you have a sales team then adding commission to their salary is an excellent incentive. This can be done for many job roles if it’s considered carefully, and is a great way for staff and managers to assess how well individuals are working.

Employee of the month is a common way to reward staff, but it can often feel contrived and cheesy. Having said that, it’s important to acknowledge good work and reward staff – be it verbally, financially or with a gift. When someone makes a breakthrough at work, maybe after putting in extra hours or skipping a few lunch breaks to make it happen, let them know their effort is appreciated and reward them accordingly.


In addition to basic benefits, there are other meaningful steps you can take that show your employees that your company genuinely cares about its staff. Consider putting together a wellness program; at Gradwell, for every three months a staff member goes without sick leave they are rewarded with an additional half day of annual leave.

Everyone loves a freebie – at Gradwell there are a lot of prize draws for tickets to events – be it awards ceremonies or an X Factor show! Have a think about what you can offer your staff.

Talent Management

Finding ways for your employees to infuse their passions into their work is often beneficial for both the staff member and the employer. Maybe you have someone in your engineering team who loves building simple computer games, or a staff member who’s passionate about art. Are these skills that can be put to use for a one off project? Maybe have a mini computer game relevant to your business put on your website, or decorate a wall with your company values.

If you’re not brainstorming ideas with your entire staff, then try it! You might be surprised by the suggestions they share. You’re more likely to build a dedicated, happy and productive team of workers if you ensure they truly feel valued.

Image: Andrew Abogoao





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