The HR buzz today is around having a company culture that attracts and retains quality employees. We
talk about performance management, succession planning, training, and development, all devised
upon supporting the short-and long-term success of the employee. We support holistic wellbeing
strategies focusing on programs for the physical, emotional, social, and financial wellbeing of our employees which in turn strengthens the long-term health of the organization. We seek to have an effective communication strategy that is an essential value for our organizations and evidence of a distinctive culture in the workplace promoting our HR and health and welfare strategies.
Traditionally, we define communication in the workplace by how we talk to each other. Books are
written, trainings held, we subject applicants and employees to workplace personality assessments, all
telling us who we are and how we need to be communicated with in order to co-exist peacefully and
productively in the workplace. Yet, every day, in a variety of industries and companies ranging from small to large, private to public, for-profit and non-profit, we see where miscommunication, lack of communication, and just plain bad communication results in turnover, social media memes, and fodder for the comic strips.
“The Economist Intelligence Unit conducted a survey on turnover and found that “44 percent of U. S.
respondents believe communication barriers lead to project delays, failures, and cancellation. Low morale
was cited because of communication barriers by 31 percent of respondents, while a quarter said that
communication barriers result in missed performance goals.” Are we though just talking about verbal
When as employers we think about communication, we should understand that verbal communication
is not the only form of communication that represents the value an organization places on its employees.
Communication comes in all formats from the company website to the job placement and branding of an
open position, to the ofice’s physical environment.
Physical location – when an applicant drives up to the company offices, can they picture themselves
going to that ofice day after day? Are there cigarette butts all over the driveway and in the grass? Is the
building clean and inviting, or old, dingy, and smelly? Are historical records stored in boxes surrounding the cubicles? Are cabinets overlowing and set-up side by side as long dark pathways down the halls?
In considering the ofices and cubicle areas, are the desks, chairs and tables piled high with papers that
no one has looked at since COVID started when everyone was sent home to work remote? Yet, when walking back in the office they continue to be left about. Is the paint on the walls chipped and dirty? Do the offices have poor lighting and unwashed windows (if there are windows at all)? Do employees fight over the temperature because shared spaces have one area that is too hot and another area that is too cold?
These may sound like working conditions that are far and few between. However, these are many of
the mainstream local businesses that we invite candidates into and allow employees to work within or to
Why is it so important that we keep a clean, inviting office? For a couple of very important reasons. First
from a compliance standpoint. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requires an employer under the General Duty Clause to provide “employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.” We want to ensure that we are providing a safe workplace, preventing accidents from occurring, and keeping health and safety costs to a minimum.
Secondly, from an employee productivity standpoint, a survey conducted by Stratus Building Services
64% of participants responded when asked “How Much Is Your Productivity Compromised By A Dirty
And/or Disorganized Ofice?” that they cannot focus, their productivity is ruined, it makes the day a struggle, and depending upon the day, it is a problem.
We all want employees engaged and productive. So do the employees. The Future Workplace Wellness
Study has shown that air, light, and temperature have an influence on employee engagement.
Do we spend too much time thinking of wellbeing in relation to work-life balance, gym memberships, and
paid time off policies? Not to say that we should not, however, are we being strategic and looking at all
opportunities to improve the wellbeing of our employees? We should listen to what the employees are
saying. In fact, in the same Workplace Wellness study, only 16% of employees surveyed rated fitness facilities as a priority while 58% prioritized air quality as their top influencer as a performance enhancer.
Healthy Environment = Healthy Business
What does it say to our employees when we do not place a value on the environment in which they are
working? That they are not worth the time, and the investment to us? As HR professionals, CEO’s and other business owners, we walk around and really see our office environment. You could be surprised. And remember, increased productivity means increased revenue.