01/03/2014 11:59 EST | Updated 03/05/2014 05:59 EST

How to Make Your Workplace Fitter, Happier, More Productive

I've worked in a lot of different office environments, both non-profit and for-profit. Some of these places were wonderful, fun, and I was sad to leave. Other workplaces were, quite frankly, toxic. Happy employees are productive employees (to paraphrase Radiohead). So here are some tips to give your staff some love:

Have lunch together - There is no better way to get to know your work roommates than over food. Encouraging staff and managers to eat together gets you past the office politics and really get to know each other. It's amazing how many disagreements can be solved over Lean Cuisines and home-made salads.

Naps - Let people have naps. It's far better to let somebody doze for 20 minutes than be a zombie all afternoon. I can't tell you how many hours I've nearly fallen asleep at my desk, wasting time until I could go home. How many people have you seen dozing on the subway? You can increase productivity if you let people sleep. It sounds nuts, but really, it's a great idea.

Random Half Days - There are few things more exciting than getting a half-day out of nowhere (my life is boring). It feels great, and you love your boss for it. Random half-days. In the summer, get some drinks and hang out together in the park. It's a way to say thank you, and all it costs is a little time.

No Stress - Stressing out your employees is a great way to achieve turn-over and burn-out. As a manager, as hard as it is, your job is to manage issues without passing them down to your staff. I see this commonly: a supervisor gets chewed out by their manager, so they chew out their employees. It's called lateral oppression, and it helps nobody. When there is constant stress, it means that employees have no sense of scale or urgency. What makes this problem worse than the last problem? Nothing. They all cause ulcers. So take a breath. Stop. Collaborate. And listen.

Be Passionate - If you don't care about your work, your employees won't. I worked in a bookstore, making minimum wage. My managers took the time to train me, care about me, and really know their jobs. They loved what they did, and because of them, so did I. I was great at that job. Not because of my skills, but because I was encouraged and I worked in a passionate environment. The stakes are higher because you care about your workplace.

What else can you do to create a healthy and, dare I say it, fun workplace?


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