An average working individual spends around 7-8 hours in their workspace throughout the weekdays. Spending so much time in a particular location to gather all your thoughts and ideas to make the most out of them requires the workspace to be safe and nurturing. Now, when I say “safe”, it does not only refer to being safe according to the hygiene guidelines to ensure a healthy work environment. Don’t get me wrong, that is one of the most important aspects of a good workspace but apart from ensuring the employees’ physical health, workspaces need to promote their mental wellbeing as well. A safe space essentially refers to a place where people do not experience discrimination or harassment based on their gender, religion, race, or any traits they possess. An employee may face various problems in the workspace, some of which they might ignore so as to “not make a big deal out of it”. However, it is your company’s duty to make sure all the employees are protected and supported to overcome any problem they might face in the workspace. A company’s development depends mainly on the calibre of its employees. As the saying goes, “wars are not won without soldiers”. If the employees start feeling dissatisfied with their working environment, their productivity significantly decreases. Given below are a few tips to ensure a safe space for your employees to thrive in.
One of the key aspects of ensuring a safe space is to build communication with every employee. Never be afraid of having tough conversations. Be understanding towards your coworkers regarding their problems to help them open up. An amiable work environment is necessary to have a positive state of mind. “There is little success where there is little laughter”. Make conversations not only when you need their suggestions or submissions but frequently just to check up on everyone.
CONDUCT PROGRAMS AND SEMINARS
Conduct programs and seminars for all employees in the office, online and offline, to make sure everyone is provided a safe space at work. Employees need to be able to be their true selves and not conform to any “societal norms” to feel included. “Everyone needs to be comfortable with bringing their whole selves to work and not just a corporate version.” Conducting anti-sexual harassment training and sensitivity training is a must in every workspace to ensure employee well-being. There are a lot of employees who might not even be aware of their unconscious bias towards a specific category of people. Training and seminars need to be conducted to make everyone aware of this bias and help them consciously work towards breaking it down. Planning all-inclusive events and programs help not only in breaking down employees’ bias but also helps in relationship building and team building. Diversity and inclusion seminars can be conducted to help employees understand how to make diverse people feel comfortable in the workplace thus improving the general harmony in the work environment.
FORM EMPLOYEE RESOURCE GROUPS
What are Employee Resource Groups? These are voluntary employee-led groups that cultivate a diverse and inclusive workspace that is in line with the company’s values. It is an open space for employees who share common characteristics to meet and support one another. People feel the most comfortable around other like-minded people and that is why it is important to have ERGs so that every employee feels included and accepted. ERGs should conduct meetings regularly to talk about any problems they might be facing, discuss how to make the work environment better for them, or just catch up and have friendly conversations. ERGs don’t necessarily have to be all about serious issues. It is also a place for employees to wind down.
MAKING CHANGES IN THE PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT
A dull and drab office environment has proven to make employees less productive. To improve your employees’ frame of mind, you can try to incorporate small changes in your co-working space like adding more colour to the furniture or decorations. Adding a few plants in the workplace gives a general sense of well-being. Try to let in as much natural sunlight as possible as it significantly helps in improving an individual’s state of mind. Since the average employee works at least 7 hours a day, it is important for them to have a calming workstation. Having personal items in workspaces can help employees remind themselves of their home and can act as a great stress reliever. Make sure to have enough ventilation in your co-working space lest your employees develop headaches or nausea. Often, one might need to take a break during a long day of work so it would be beneficial to have a rest area or a lounge with comfortable seating where people can wind down, relax and have a cup of joe. You know what they say about all work and no play.
We hope the tips above help you provide a healthy and safe space for all your employees. Happy working!