It's not Just about the Money: How to Improve your Work Situation

Posted by martin.parnell |

On July 23rd. I posted a blog entitled “When the holiday’s over, how to improve your career.” In it, I suggested taking some time to evaluate your career path and increasing your wage. 

At the end, I wrote that I would, in a future blog, write about other aspects of your working life that you might wish to improve on and ways in which to accomplish those improvements. So, here goes. 

There are many factors that can affect people’s working lives. It may be that they don’t have support from family members, they are poor time-keepers, they can’t find childcare, the transit system is unreliable. These are very personal issues and those people need to look into ways in which they can fix these problems. 

However, there are situations and circumstances that are based in the workplace that I want to address.

Some of them are factors that I have written about, in previous blogs, all of which can be accessed on my website,  and I’m going to reference them for you to read, at your leisure: 

Firstly, if you have your own business, you may be anxious about returning from vacation, if you know that your business is failing: See March 14th. 2018  How to diagnose and cure an ailing business and July 4th. 2018 If your business isn’t growing, look for the root of the problem. 

You may have great ideas that you want to share and feel that they would gain you recognition, but you don’t know how to go about it: See March 20th. 2018  How to communicate in a way that is accessible to all. 

You may find that you are miserable at work because, for one reason or another, a close colleague has left: See April 10th. 2018   How to deal with missing your work buddy, when they leave. 

At times, you may feel overwhelmed by the task in hand: See May 23rd. 2018 How to manage a mammoth tasksee it as an elephant. You may find it difficult to accept change: See September 4th. 2018 How to accept change and embrace the positives. 

You may feel terrified of making a mistake: See November 7th. 2018 How to be positive about making a mistake. You may be unsure as to the opinion of others with regards to you work: See January 9th 2019 Why asking for feedback in the right way is of most value. 

Hopefully, some of these ideas will help you address certain issues you may face with regards to work. But, what about more practical issues? 

They may appear pretty basic and of no particular concern, to some people, but can have a large impact on others. I found this article on, that mentions some of these. The piece is aimed at management but, if one or more of them applies to you, I suggest you point them out to your line manager.

If you are a boss, it’s worth considering these issues and whether or not they are conditions that may be affecting your employees, written by by James McDonald on February 18, 2019, he quotes Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics, who recommends focusing on improvements in employee productivity, which can have a great impact on the bottom line. One of the most effective ways to do this is by reducing or eliminating poor working conditions:  

“7 Poor Working Conditions That Hurt Employee Productivity:

1) Inadequate Space Utilization

Have you ever heard the term “set up to fail”?  If your employees are lacking the space and resources to do their best work, you are doing just that.  And it isn't just about allocating the right amount of space per person. Your employees need enough space to be able to work comfortably, but they also need the right mix of space to be productive. They need to have access to quiet spaces where they can concentrate on deep work,as well as common areas designed for collaboration. And they need an easy way to find and reserve these spaces. 

2) Ineffective Workplace Technology

Workplace technology is one of the three most important elements that make up the experience, according to author Jacob Morgan. Technology that's slow, outdated, or ineffective is frustrating to use. And over time, that frustration can erode employee satisfaction and even push employees out the door.

A survey of 12,000 employees in 12 countries found that 58 percent of employees at companies considered to be "technology laggards" had negative feelings toward their employer. 

Inefficient workplace technology also hurts productivity in a big way. Consider what happens when you're using outdated software for hosting meetings, for instance. At least a few times a week, you have to restart a conference call, log back in and get everyone back on track.

By eliminating this distraction and others, you give each employee an extra 18 minutes back each day. Multiple that by 500 employees earning an average salary of $85,000, and over the course of the year, this can add as much as $1.6 million back into your annual budget, according to an article Lister published in the January/February issue of Facility Management Journal. 

3) Poor Lighting

If there's one element employees want more than anything else in their workplace design, its access to natural light. Poor lighting contributes to eye strain, fatigue and reduced productivity. On the contrary, access to plentiful light —especially natural light — can improve productivity. 

In a survey by Future Workplace, 70 percent of employees said having access to natural light makes them more productive. Yet more than 33 percent said they felt they had inadequate access to natural light.

4) Inefficient Workplace Processes

Just as it's critical to evaluate workplace technology, it's important to take a hard look at your workplace processes and identify opportunities for improvement. Often times, management and employees will accept a process based solely on the assertion that “this is how it’s always been done.” But times change, and our customers and employees do as well.

Open up a dialogue with your team and ask the questions: “What workflow issues are slowing you down?” You’d be surprised at how much things can change with just a few simple tweaks and the automation of certain procedures.

5) A Lack of Workplace Flexibility and Balance

Times have changed a lot since the Baby Boomer generation entered the workforce. The modern workplace isn’t confined to four walls; it goes everywhere with us. In fact, gallup recently reported that 25 percent of Americans work between 45-59 hours per week, working on commutes or while waiting for dinner to be ready.

Unlike our predecessors, however, a work/life balance is critical. In Gallup's most recent State of the Workplace report, 53 percent of employees said a role that allows them to have a greater work/life balance is "very important" to them.  

In the same survey, 51 percent of respondents said they would change jobs to have flexible scheduling in their work, yet only 44 percent said their current company offers it. A similar discrepancy exists when respondents were asked about having the option to work off-site at least part time. Thirty-seven percent said they would change jobs for that flexibility, but only 24 percent said their employer offers it. 

You can help employees achieve a greater work/life balance by offering flexible arrangements whenever possible. It's also important to make sure workloads are manageable and encourage employees to use their paid time off. A well-rested workforce makes a big difference in both the quality and quantity of work. 

6) Uncomfortable Working Conditions

It's difficult to concentrate when you're shivering or constantly fanning yourself to stay cool. Similarly, issues like broken chairs, wobbly desks or clanging pipes create poor working conditions that can become big distractions. 

They keep your employees from engaging in the type of deep work that produces the best results. Over time, they can hurt morale and negatively impact the employee experience. 

The good news is that you can easily address this issue by ensuring employees have an easy way to submit service requests via a mobile app.

7) A Toxic Company Culture

Your company culture directly influences employee engagement and productivity. In fact, much of today’s workforce will choose to move on to a new job if the workplace culture doesn’t meet their expectations. 

Just like a bad attitude, a negative company culture is contagious. It lowers employee engagement and reduces productivity.”

Whatever the issue or condition is, that’s having a negative effect on how you feel about your working conditions, from dealing with a difficult colleague to having to sit all day in a chair that gives you back ache, do make an effort to address the problem.

Not only will it make you feel better about going to work every day, but you’ll feel the benefit of knowing you didn’t just put up with something that, with a little research and determination, can be fixed. 

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at  and see what he can do for you in the long run.



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