Managing a workplace is no longer just about managing real estate or controlling costs. With more organizations struggling to attract, engage and retain employees, executives need to focus their attention on creating the kind of workplace experience that attracts, engages and retains top talent.
“It’s moving away from brick and mortar into what makes people feel happy and fulfilled within a working environment,” said Marie Puybaraud, Global Head of Research at JLL. “People need to be nurtured within an environment that drives performance, improves their quality of life, improves productivity but most importantly, improves their health and happiness.”
This is the workplace experience every employee deserves. Not only that—PwC research shows employees who feel fulfilled at work stay three years longer on average.
3 Elements of The Workplace Experience
Creating a great workplace experience starts by focusing on three priorities, according to Puybaraud:
- Engagement - Creating a sense of commitment
- Empowerment - Creating a sense of control and choice
- Fulfillment - Creating a sense of comfort and wellbeing
Here’s a closer look at each one.
1. Employee Engagement
Employee engagement is a key factor in your company’s profitability, productivity and customer service. Highly engaged employees contribute more to your organization and turn in higher quality work, for instance. And there are measurable differences between companies with the highest employee engagement scores and those with the lowest. A Gallup meta-analysis of research studies covering more than 200 organizations found those with the highest engagement scores were 21% more profitable than companies with the lowest scores and had 24-59% less turnover, depending on the industry.
To be fully engaged, employees need to trust your leadership team and be emotionally connected to your organization or brand, according to Jill Christensen, speaker and author of If Not You, Who? Cracking the Code of Employee Disengagement.
Improving employee engagement starts with your leadership team communicating a clear vision and helping employees set measurable goals that align with it.
Without a clear sense of your organization’s mission and how they are contributing to it, the workplace experience won’t mean anything to your employees.
2. Employee Empowerment
Empowering employees means giving them a certain degree of control over their work and their environment. And in an age when employees can work anywhere they have an internet connection, this has become more important than ever.
Today’s employees expect a certain level of flexibility when it comes to where, when and how they work. While the degree of flexibility that’s possible may depend on your industry, you can empower employees by:
- Implementing workplace policies that give direction, not orders
- Allowing them to work remotely when the work permits
- Allowing them to choose where they sit depending on the work they’re doing
- Implementing workplace technology that improves autonomy
- Using technology that improves collaboration and accountability
As you think about how to create a workplace experience that empowers employees, think about all the interactions they have in a typical day. For instance:
- How easy is it to find colleagues when everyone chooses their seats?
- How easy is it to find a conference room or a quiet place to work?
- What happens when important technology or equipment isn’t working?
- Do they have to wait in long lines or go offsite to get lunch?
- What happens when they have visitors?
- How do they find out about company events?
- Where do they encounter the biggest frustrations?
- What resources do they need that you can provide?
Conducting an employee engagement survey can help you uncover important insights about your workplace experience. Casual conversation is just as important.
Bottom line? Every employee deserves to have freedom to work in the way that works best for them, and leaders who value their input.
3. Employee Fulfillment
Fulfillment is the feeling we experience when we have a sense of purpose.
All employees deserve to find meaning and purpose in their daily work lives. Seven out of 10 said they would consider an offer for a more fulfilling job, while one out of three said they would consider taking a pay cut for greater fulfillment, according to a 2018 PwC survey.
To achieve fulfillment, employees need strong relationships, shared experiences and opportunities to grow. They need to feel a sense of belonging within their workplace and feel connected to their colleagues, according to Dr. Britt Andreatta, author of Wired to Grow and Wired to Connect.
“We are wired to connect…and our feelings of belonging and connectedness are correlated with oxytocin levels in the brain,” Andreatta said. “We are also hard-wired to grow and improve.”
While employees have a responsibility for finding fulfillment in their work, as a leader, there are a few ways you can support them in this quest. For instance:
- Make sure your workplace design is conducive to building relationships. A workplace that is closed off by private offices or cubicles can create barriers, but an entirely open floor plan can have the opposite effect, causing employees to avoid the office or resort to using headphones.
- Create opportunities for shared experiences. Employees develop more meaningful connections when they overcome challenges together—like making it out of an escape room or helping to build a house. Consider this as you plan your next holiday party or company outing.
- Use technology that creates connected experiences. Think about how much more fun it is to play a video game or participate in a fantasy football league with a group. Now apply the same principles to your workplace. Give employees access to a mobile workplace app that’s so easy to use, they’ll want to use it every day.
Every employee deserves a work environment where they feel engaged, empowered and fulfilled. By focusing on the workplace experience as a whole, rather than on just a few individual elements, you can attract more talented individuals and increase the likelihood that they’ll stay long enough to make significant contributions.