As much as you may feel it is you primarily doing the interviewing when a potential new recruit arrives at your office, the process of evaluation is very much a two-way street. From the moment the recruit steps out of their car or bus makes and their way through your office doors, they are busy making semiconscious snap judgements about whether they want to work for you.

For the majority, these decisions are not based on the information received at interview, or even on the welcome they received from the interviewing panel, but on the appearance and atmosphere of the workplace itself. A survey of 1,500 candidates by revealed more than 80% would be put off accepting a job if they did not have a positive impression of the office.
Furthermore, 72% of those interviewed admitted to making this judgement within 30 seconds of arriving – before even speaking to an interviewer!

Clearly this puts employers under some pressure to create a favourable impression on recruits and nurture a positive, motivational and fun office environment. While most businesses don’t have the resources of Facebook, Google or Virgin to create exciting, team-focused working areas, there are practical actions that can be taken to ensure your workplace doesn’t put off potential dream candidates.

Modern makeover

Almost half of the survey respondents cited a ‘fun and modern’ office environment as the most important factor in deciding whether to work for a company. So what is ‘fun and modern’ in practical terms? Open plan working is definitely one factor, so you could consider removing some of the desk partitions that tend to close a space and restrict personal interactions.

Keeping on top of office decoration is also something else that can be done. If your office hasn’t been decorated since the 1980s, a lick of paint won’t cost much and certainly won’t do your office any harm. When choosing colours, keep them light and neutral (e.g. white rather than beige) interspersed with sections of bright colours, such as pinks and blues and vivid greens. Vibrant prints and pieces of artwork also liven up an otherwise dull office space and create a more dynamic atmosphere.

Natural light

Energy levels and motivation are hugely boosted by the presence of natural light, while fluorescent, artificial lighting tends to strain people’s eyes and make them tired and irritable. Make the most of all the natural light available to you in your office, and where you need to use artificial lighting, consider soft, unobtrusive LED lighting rather than traditional ceiling lights.

Breakout areas

Having short, regular breaks away from the screen is a great way of keeping people motivated and energised. If possible, turn some of your space into breakout areas where your team can stretch their legs, grab a snack and chat with their colleagues before returning to work. This social interaction and rapport between your teammates will create a fantastic impression for new recruits.

Free coffee and snacks

Only 10% of survey respondents implied that the way to their hearts was through their stomachs, but free coffee and snacks are certainly a gesture that will be appreciated by all new recruits to a company. It makes people feel welcomed and appreciated over and above the financial rewards they receive. You don’t have to break the bank by doing this – making free snacks a Friday treat, for instance, will have the same impact on morale as having these incentives permanently available.

With the increase in demand for highly skilled employees, employers now need to go the extra mile to impress potential new recruits and secure the skills they need. Reorganising your office space to motivate current teammates and impress newcomers is an easy and achievable means of making a favourable impression on job candidates.

Tricia Hay

Tricia Hay is Owner, Director of First Base Employment Limited