How to Protect Your Human Capital

While most companies worry about finding capital — the money needed to buy everything from old-fashioned paper clips to the newest tech platforms — human capital is just as important. How do you attract and retain the best and brightest talent for your enterprise?

My answer: Create a fun work environment. This kind of workplace breeds collaboration and encourages a team culture. And fun creates fertile soil for productivity. Just ask the employees at Dreamworks, Google or Zappos.

Here are 10 ways to create a fun work environment:

  1. Invest in technology. Technology makes their jobs easier. Providing the newest platforms shows your employees you are willing to invest in the tools that allow them to produce the best product possible.
  2. Buy everyone a dual-monitor work station. You have to invest in hardware, too. I have found working from two side-by-side monitors more than doubles my productivity. And when it comes to monitors, the bigger the better. Everyone loves big monitors–from the aging Baby Boomers to the new-to-the-workforce millennials.
  3. Insist on glass walls. They really are the best walls. Glass walls create a private space but scream “open work environment” and illuminate a certain optimism. You create trust with your employees when you have a transparent work place. And there’s a health benefit too, because glass walls let in natural light. We all do better with a healthy dose of vitamin D!
  4. Make one office wall a dry erase board. What a great place to scribble ideas for all to see! These walls encourage on-the-spot brainstorming. Ideas handwritten in a rainbow of colors is a great visual of the work you do. They keep important ideas front and center. I have often seen employees take photos of these boards with their cell phones to refresh their memory of the corporate action items.
  5. Give people space. Not everyone can have a corner office. But I have discovered every employee wants a little real estate they can count on as their own and personalize it to be their own.
  6. Hang flat screens in the office. They are a great way to showcase key branding items, sales numbers or star performances. You can keep changing the view to emphasize what you think is important.
  7. Have an awesome kitchen. At home, where do people gather? The kitchen. Well, the same thing happens at the office. Make the kitchen a welcoming place where you can celebrate birthdays, employment anniversaries and big wins. The space should allow for plenty of tables & chairs that can be easily moved around to become one large gathering or separate for smaller groups. And, most importantly, have your cleaning crew enter often to keep it a fresh, sparkling and crumb-free zone when you gather for fun and important announcements.
  8. Provide nutritious free food. Coffee is just basic when it comes to providing food. Include healthy snacks like fresh seasonal fruit along with a big selection of crispy favorites. Get a big enough refrigerator to encourage employees to bring healthy lunches to work.
  9. Always be prepared for company. Make sure your office is ready for a surprise visit by your potential customers, job candidates you are trying to woo, vendors, investors, regulators, even employee family members. That means investing in an attractive and comfortable waiting area and a thorough and consistent cleaning crew. Typically, your employees will follow your example and will take pride in the place. That means they will keep their work stations tidy and organized as well.
  10. Schedule company outings. Every company has a holiday party. But that’s not enough to create a strong camaraderie. A company that plays together, stays together. Fund a night of bowling. Organize a family picnic on a summer afternoon. Take a Friday off and have a scavenger hunt. Or take everyone to the movies in a real theater.

Many of these tips require more time than money. Protect your human capital just as staunchly as your bank capital and you should have a lot more fun and success at work.

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