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  • Writer's pictureAnnie Frisoli

Parking lots, break rooms and bathrooms: What do they say before you have a chance to?

Written by Annie Frisoli, Chuck Orzechowski & Josh Renicker

Your bathrooms are talking. And so are all the shared facilities at your workplace—the break room, the parking lot, the guard shack, the landscape, etc.

What are they saying? That depends entirely on their upkeep.

These places are an opportunity to either invite people in, help them begin their day, and encourage them to do their best work—or they drag them down and can create an environment full of clock watchers.

Basing employment decisions on work environment

Imagine it’s time to hire a new position. You find the perfect candidate and the interview goes swimmingly. But there’s a catch. This person is interviewing with other companies as well, and ALL of their interviews have gone well.

How will they make their decision? Surely not based on the toilets, the office chairs, and the parking lot. That would be silly….right? Right??

While they’re probably not basing their decision on the parking lot or bathroom entirely, it does play a role in their subconscious reasoning. A drab parking lot full of cracks and fading paint can bring people down. Every moment—from the time they pull their car into the parking lot to the second they push on the heavy, outdated doors to return home—feels like a chore.

On the other hand, this person interviewed with another company that had tidier facilities. The chairs didn’t squeak. The parking lot was well-maintained. The bathroom had clean, low-flush toilets and hands-free sinks. The overall ambiance was better, giving this person a better feeling.

Who do you think they chose?

They followed their gut, of course, accepting a position with the other company. And their gut feeling probably wasn’t wrong.

Here’s why:

Your facilities affect employee morale.

Clean, bright, well-maintained spaces send a message that employees matter. This boosts morale, increases employee retention, and helps people do their work better, faster, and with fewer errors.

In other words, your facilities reflect employee attitude and performance, and vice versa.

Your space has been affecting you since childhood. This isn’t new. Several studies show links between specific learning environments and increased student performance over the last few years. Schools with bright spaces, clean lighting, tranquil settings, and reduced noise improve learning outcomes.

You didn’t have the option to choose your school, but in today’s employee-centered market, we certainly have more choice in where we work. This is why it’s vital leaders contribute to a positive working environment by advocating for better facilities and creating inviting spaces.

Here are some tips to help you get the welcoming environment you need to boost morale

  1. Add plants to your indoor and outdoor spaces

  2. Update your lights to LED options that are not too bright and not too dim

  3. Bring in natural light when available

  4. Keep shared areas clean and encourage your team to keep their areas clean

  5. Choose seating options that contribute to proper posture

  6. Provide water and snacks

  7. Advocate for better performing and brighter facilities

  8. Decrease loud noises

Improve your company culture

Simply changing your workspace won’t magically turn a negative environment into a positive one. If your employees are unhappy and you’re struggling with retention, you need to focus on what else is happening. If morale is low, your external environment will go back to suffering. No one will have the motivation to keep it nicely maintained.

However, repairing the outer environment shows your team they are genuinely valued. It can be the boost you need to take performance from good to exceptional. It improves moods, decreases stress, and elevates satisfaction.

Can you afford to ignore this part of your company’s equation?

Head back into your break room or bathroom and listen carefully. What are these spaces telling you about your company culture?

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