Google has a slide in its office, Chesapeake Energy has an indoor rock climbing wall, Boeing’s employees get Christmas through New Year’s Day off, and Visa rewards “green” commuters who keep their carbon footprint small.
Some of the most successful companies believe that a happy workforce means better output, better retention, and better customer satisfaction. And they’re right. Not only does a more fun and innovative work environment help the staff, it also helps networking, branding, and productivity.
On the nitty and gritty side of things, not every company can build a bocce ball court next to the cafeteria. However, every company can implement a few new business strategies this year to create a healthier and more positive work environment to help their workers, and ultimately, help the company’s bottom line.
1. Telecommuting Options
One of most popular and growing trends in top-ranked businesses is the availability of telecommuting. Not only is this an attractive business perk for workers who’d rather work from home or the coffee shop a few times a week, but an experiment done by scholars at Stanford University showed that people working full time from home are 13% more efficient than in-house staff members. An additional study by UCi2i found that telecommuters work on average 22 extra days a year versus in-house workers.
Companies can use a myriad of IP tools to stay better connected, such as IP video conferencing for virtual face-to-face meetings, and IP faxing, which allows remote employees to send and receive company faxes via their home computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
2. “Green” Business Initiatives
According to a recent survey by Ernst & Young, 67% of CFOs cite “Image among consumers” as the number one driver in implementing eco-friendly corporate initiatives. Some companies like Ikea are already going above and beyond by using green technologies in-house and out. For instance, Ikea only uses compact fluorescent light bulbs (which use 80% less energy) within the store, plus they only sell energy-efficient light bulbs to their customers.
There are plenty of “green” strategies a company can use, like installing energy-saving light fixtures, setting the air conditioner a few degrees up, and adding recycle bins next to standard trash cans. A business can also cut down on hardware, like using a cloud PBX (also called a business IP PBX) which directs all of the phone calls in the office. A cloud PBX is located off-site and uses less copper wires and physical hardware. And of course, companies can also use those IP tools like video conferencing and e-faxing to make a big difference in cutting down daily carbon emissions.
3. Embrace Innovative and Secure Tech
The old keyboard and headset are still standard sights in an office, but supplement technologies–such as the ever popular tablets and smartphones–can make a big difference in productivity, especially when it comes to company phone calls.
Phone service like Internet calling (also called VoIP) makes a big difference in an office phone system. VoIP service is often 50-80% cheaper than traditional phone service and allows for mobile apps which keep telecommuters better connected. Plus, Internet calls use secure and stealth encryption methods, so shared communication is private and no company secrets are leaked to competitors.
4. Free Healthy Snacks
One of Google’s greatest selling points is that it offers their employees free meals. Now, it isn’t quite realistic that all businesses feed their employees breakfast and lunch, but it’s certainly possible to order a weekly batch of fresh fruit or snacks for the office.
A full employee is a happy employee, and is much more likely to spend the extra effort on the phone with a customer providing help or making a sale. And of course, it also makes an employee want to stick around for bagel Fridays and fresh fruit Mondays. Yahoo!, which decided to follow in the footsteps of Google by offering free food to employees, recently saw its stock rise by 75% and saw its web traffic at its highest rate in nearly 2 years.
5. More Time Off for Real Life (And a Little Networking)
Some companies, like Mattel, allow employees to take paid time off for their kids’ school field trips. The truth of the matter is, networking happens just about everywhere. Yes, those Mattel parents are busy on those field trips checking out dinosaurs at the museum or picking out books at the library, but they are also talking to other parents about what they do and what they sell for a living.
Casual marketing happens at every birthday BBQ, every grandparents’ anniversary party, every dentist and doctor’s office, and so on. Every bit of exposure helps the company brand.
It takes a talented workforce to be the company that everyone wants to work for and buy from, which is why companies with imagination are leading the way in reputation and in-demand products and services. With a few creative tweaks and out-of-the-box thinking, any business can become a top-ranked company–and maybe even a company that has its very own slide or bocce ball court, too.
More Business articles from Business 2 Community: