On the surface, the concept of corporate morale might seem like a concern for a human resources executive, not a facilities manager. After all, your job as an FM is to manage office space and plan the way your company uses its office building. What does that have to do with keeping employees happy and engaged?
As it turns out, quite bit. You may not realize it, but indirectly, your space management decisions can have a real impact on the day-to-day happiness of the people in your office building. According to the International Facility Management Association, this is something that FMs should keep in mind as they proceed.
IFMA defines a company's "morale" as "the spirits of a person or group as exhibited by confidence, cheerfulness, discipline, and willingness to perform assigned tasks." The organization notes that low morale is a serious problem among professionals in the United States – citing a Gallup survey, IFMA estimates that about 22 million workers in the U.S. are "actively disengaged," and the productivity they squander causes $350 billion per year in damages.
Stephanie Fanger, facilities planner for General Dynamics C4 Systems in Scottsdale, Arizona, told IFMA that companies should take a closer look at how their facilities influence their employees' well-being. "It is advantageous to investigate the ways employees function within their office environment to ensure occupants are able to be productive and morale is high," Fanger said.
With that in mind, it's good to take a moment and consider a few key questions that might have an effect on morale within your office.
Do people have the right workspaces?
Some people require quiet offices in order to focus and get their work done. Others are the exact opposite, preferring to work in collaborative spaces where people can communicate freely. Which do your employees prefer? If you're out of touch with workers offices of choice, then you risk alienating them. Employees who are unhappy with their workspaces might become less productive, putting a damper on the entire company.
Do their offices have the right layout?
For one thing, you want to make sure that people who work on the same team or within the same department are located near each other – this way, they can easily collaborate on projects without having to waste time navigating around the building. For another, workers like to sit near their friends. If an employee is disappointed because one of his or her closest allies in the office is far away, this is an easy problem to fix. Make sure workers are happy with where they're located within your facilities.
Are they secure?
It's difficult for employees to get anything done at work if they're worried about the safety of their office buildings. Luckily, advanced facilities management software make it easy to monitor any and all security risks. Whether it's unwanted intruders, fire hazards or even cybersafety, there are many different types of threats that could potentially disrupt someone's work day. Your job as a facilities manager is to protect your office against all of them.
Are they getting their mail?
We may be living in an increasingly paperless world, with paper documents being replaced every day by emails and shared cloud data, but that doesn't mean old-fashioned snail mail is dead just yet. Millions of Americans still rely on the mail for bringing important information to their desks – as an FM, part of your job is to cater to people's needs and make sure mail is delivered properly.
You might not be an HR rep or a psychologist, but as an FM, you still do play a role in enhancing employee morale within your building every day. Don't let that power go to waste.
Editor's Note: This blog post was originally published in September 2013 and has been updated for accuracy and relevance.