We know that a happy workforce is a more productive one. Yet, in our current economic climate, startups and entrepreneurs are under pressure to be as cost-effective as possible. With this in mind, we’ve put together some ways to create an office environment that boosts morale without sacrificing your profitability.

1.    Ensure a good attitude starts at the top

Workplace attitude often starts at the top and trickles down. If you want your employees to work harder, you’ll need to make sure that your company culture rewards hard work, offers development opportunities and recognises positive contributions.

This starts with management. In a recent survey, 80% of employees said they would work more hours for a more empathetic employer. Managers with high emotional intelligence are more likely to lead an engaged workforce, which has been shown to drive sales.

2. Give employees time to get away from their desks

Too often, employees skip a proper lunch break in order to show dedication. However, research has shown that this may be detrimental to their performance. While they may be at their desk more hours, they’re not necessarily being more productive. Getting away from the computer and breathing some fresh air has been shown to boost concentration levels. Employees who take regular 15-20 minute breaks throughout the day show even high levels of concentration.

One of the key factors here is taking time away from stimulation — our minds need time to recover and recuperate. A break from the constant buzz of the office can lower blood pressure, relieve stress and improve sleep quality.

3. Invest in good coffee

It may seem like a small thing, but a good cup of coffee can make all the difference when it comes to a happy and productive workforce. In fact, in Finland, coffee is so integral to the working day that by law, Finnish employees are entitled to two ten-minute coffee breaks a day!

Investing in good quality coffee will show your workforce that you care about their comfort — and will also impress clients and guests. If you need further convincing, research from MIT has identified a link between caffeine and creativity. Coffee has also been shown to improve productivity — it’s a small investment with a big pay-off.

4. Design a space employees will be proud of

Office design can have more of an impact on your workforce than you think. In fact, 61% of workers feel that a beautifully designed workspace is a major perk. There are ways that you can tweak the office environment without investing heavily.

Bringing a little of the outside, indoors can have a big impact. Research has shown that plants indoors can help to reduce stress and anxiety, increase productivity and reduce hostility. Try to make the most of natural light, too — workplaces with ample daylight can see up to a 40% increase in productivity and sales.

5. Celebrate success together

Make sure that your employees feel celebrated — not just in terms of their successes in the office, but also for their life achievements. It may not always be practical to hold a party or social event in their honour, but by recognising these milestones, your employees will feel more valued. Workers want to be seen as individuals and not just as a cog in the machine.

Celebrating professional success is just as vital. Something as simple as an email to the whole office sharing the story of their great work can do a lot to improve an individual’s confidence. Even better, create your own ‘employee of the month’ award. Setting aside 30 minutes a month and a small budget for a prize is a minor investment that could see a big improvement in workplace happiness.

To wrap up

If you’re looking for the best ways to improve employee morale — ask them! Create an anonymous survey and circulate it around your office. Ultimately, employees want to be heard. This way, the initiatives you pick are the ones your employees actually want to see implemented. If your employees feel valued, enjoy their working environment and feel confident in sharing ideas, you’ll see it reflected in your bottom line.

Emily Marchant works at Selesti, an award-winning search marketing and web design agency. She’s a digital skills advocate and is passionate about all things business and marketing. For more business and marketing news follow her on Twitter @emarchant.