Improving Your Workplace

August 14, 2008 at 2:19 am Leave a comment

By Carol Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC,
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC, home of

What can you do to improve your workplace? Some civil engineering firms are hiring, some are cutting staff and some are hanging tough with their current teams. Regardless of your status in your company, how can you be happier at work?

Say “Good Morning!”
Years ago I would get to work about 30 minutes before the rest of my team at the engineering firm where I worked. By the time others arrived, I was deep into my morning. One day a staff member came in my office and shut the door. She looked so serious. “Why are you mad at me?” she asked. I had no idea what she was talking about. It seems that I had tunnel vision. That morning, as with other mornings, I left my office to retrieve something from another office and walked right past this staff member and several others, so involved in my work I had not even noticed they were there. I had not said “Good Morning.” This told me a couple of things: work was overwhelming, too stressful and was changing my personality. Additionally, I saw how my behavior directly affected others in the office. That never happened again. A smile and a “How’s it going?” can make a difference to another person and to yourself!

Space Planning
Look around you. Is your desk organized? If not, would you feel calmer if it was? Yes? Then make time to clean it up! Do you have pictures that make you smile? Do you have cartoon clippings that you know will bring a laugh? Can you invest in a new lamp, some desk items that will warm up a sterile workspace? Do it, fix it and change it! Take control over your space, no matter how large or small the space is.

Think Positively
We all get bogged down every now and then. For some of us, we can get stuck in a negative mindset. So many times I say to myself that “negative brings negative and positive brings positive!” Everyone knows, as Randy Pausch would say, an “Eeyore” type person…doom and gloom, someone who always sees the glass half-empty. They can’t see the possibilities, only the problems. These are not the best people to have on your team. You can’t change them, but you can change how you respond to them. And, your response can pick up the team. Try it one day. You’ll find that by thinking positively, you will act positively and those around you will want to be around you!

Be Gracious
As mentioned in our recent BLOG, remember to say “Thanks” to those who help you; be gracious to those around you. Our personal problems often seem overwhelming. Someone once told me that if you ask a group of people to write all their problems down and then tell everyone to pick which problems out of all those collected that they want….EVERYONE wants to take their own problems back! Each of your colleagues comes to work with their own issues. Some you may know, some you don’t. Don’t add to someone else’s problems. Work may be the only place they can go to feel sane!

Make Friends
Some people will say that work life and personal life should be separate. Let’s be realistic. We spend at a minimum, 8 hours at work, 5 days a week. Studies show that having friendships at work make us happier and more productive. You should plan on lunch out of the office with one or more people at least one time a week. Getting to know colleagues can also help workflow and teaming.

Get Outside
Try to get out of the office building at least once a day. If weather doesn’t permit, at least get out of your office or workspace. Clear your mind for some time during the day. You’ll be fresher and have a better perspective if you remove yourself from work stress for a short period(s) during the day. It is suggested that breaks boost retention and bring clarity.

For the past 20+ years I have been telling candidates that going to work and feeling stressed and unhappy is a waste of a perfectly good day. Sometimes you can change your behavior and the workplace follows…other times, you need to change the workplace and your happiness follows!


Entry filed under: Employee Retention, Uncategorized. Tags: , .

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