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Happy, healthy employees are an important component of any thriving business. In fact, a large portion of today’s business leaders report attracting and retaining top talent as a key business objective over the next decade. However, changing workforce demographics, an increase in automated work, and a shift in employee expectations has created a complex and increasingly challenging dynamic. The Millennial generation now comprises over one-third of the workforce and they bring with them a new wave of demands when it comes to employment.

Despite changing workplace restraints employee satisfaction should be a priority. A successful business will need to have an ear to the ground when it comes to implementing effective employee engagement strategies. The risk of ignoring employee engagement efforts is simply too great. Recent data suggest the cost of losing an employee can be up to twice the departing employee’s salary. Costs associated with turnover include recruiting efforts, training costs, and risk of additional turnover as existing employees must manage additional work in the interim. This data clearly suggests a focus on employee satisfaction is critical to reaching long-term business objectives. Here are five proven ways you can make your work environment a little more comfortable for employees:

Focus on Aesthetics

One of the easiest ways to increase the comfort level of your employees is by investing in a comfortable office space. Employees spend a large chunk of their week at the office, so developing a comfortable physical workspace is well worth the investment.

While “comfort” is a relative term, there are plenty of ways to make a space universally inviting. For one, custom office desks are an inexpensive way to promote comfort in the workplace. You might consider allowing employees to select a standing desk or any other workstation that makes them feel more at home. Allowing employees to pick the design, color scheme, and aesthetics in their office adds a personal touch and demonstrates an appreciation for individuality. You should also consider common area aesthetics like lighting, wall color, art, and communal decor. A professional office designer can help with the process and assist with decision making that will boost your employee satisfaction when it comes to the physical office setting.

Promote Continued Learning

Both the employee and the employer benefit from this comfort scheme. Recent human resources research finds that many employees would love to have more professional development or training opportunities. People in general hate feeling stagnant and the feel of a “dead-end” job can lead employees to seek new opportunities. Employers can curb this trend by supporting and funding various professional development forums throughout the year. Company leaders should be relentless about encouraging development as the practice not only contributes to job satisfaction, but also helps the company by increasing an employee’s skill set, creativity, and problem-solving.

Many employers make the mistake of thinking a professional development policy will hurt the bottom line, but there are plenty of creative ways to provide continued learning without breaking the bank. Programs like mentorship initiatives, lunch and learns, and internal online communities offer solutions that allow peer-to-peer learning in a low-cost setting. This arrangement is a win-win for everyone and worth the time investment.

Offer Recognition

Gratitude has long been tied to a variety of health benefits and the practice can easily be extended into the workplace. It’s natural to want recognition for a job well done, but employers often don’t invest the time to appreciate the efforts of their employees. Smart business leaders will recognize this facet of human nature, evaluate the return on investment and quickly nail down initiatives for creating a culture of gratitude within the organization.

This practice requires minimal effort on the front end, but reaps huge rewards. Little things like recognizing birthdays or milestones, publicly praising employees in front of others, or promoting peer-to-peer recognition are simple strategies to get you started. Regularly expressing and encouraging gratitude within the workplace can dramatically increase the comfort level of your employees and boost morale overall.

Create Collaborative Spaces

While every employee may enjoy a private space and the chance to hunker down and get work done there are also benefits to more social spaces. Recent office trends suggest open concept floor plans are on the rise. These more social workstations create a much-needed balance for many employees.

For an employer on the fence about open concept plans, it should be noted that socializing at work has a huge impact on productivity levels and can make employees feel more connected to their work and their peers. Socializing also sparks creativity and innovation and offers unparalleled opportunities for developing communities fueled by collaboration. Employees don’t want to feel isolated, so offering fun communal spaces with snacks and other resources is a nice touch.

Communicate Communicate Communicate

Communication is key in almost every facet of life. As a leader, you can’t escape the fact that your employees need to hear from you! There is nothing worse than feeling left in the dark. Not only is it uncomfortable, but it can also be counter-productive. Free-flowing communication is critical for a high functioning organization. Business leaders should invest in training for managers, facilitate various channels for communication, and should be open and receptive to feedback and communication from all levels.

Along those lines, effective communication also encompasses content. Your employees should clearly understand the company’s vision, mission, and key objectives. Each employee should understand how their role fits into the overall structure and should have a clear direction on how to approach their work each day. This requires strong leadership and solid communication all the way through the hierarchy and while it may seem simple effective communication can greatly contribute to overall employee satisfaction.

These items are just a few of the many components of a strong work environment. Each piece works together to create a safe and comfortable space where employees are able to learn, grow, and contribute. If your workspace needs a little upgrade, consider incorporating any of these elements.