Corporate real estate strategy is no longer just about reducing costs. With more organizations facing skills gaps in their workforce, CRE leaders are focusing their attention on employee engagement.
In the most recent CBRE survey, 68% of corporate real estate leaders said employee engagement was a key driver of their CRE strategy, even ahead of cost reduction.
Here’s why employee engagement is so critical and four strategies corporate real estate leaders can use to improve in this area.
Why Improving Employee Engagement Is Key
Gallup’s most recent employee engagement data shows engagement is trending upward, but the numbers are still less than encouraging. In the average U.S. workforce:
- Only 34% of employees are engaged
- 53% of employees are not engaged
- 16.5% of employees are actively disengaged
Improving employee engagement significantly improves profitability, productivity and customer service. It also reduces negative factors, including absenteeism, quality issues, and turnover.
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
- Were 20% more productive
- Had 24-59% less turnover (depending on industry)
- Had 40% higher quality of products and services
- Had 70% fewer safety incidents
- Had 10% greater customer loyalty and engagement
As these statistics show, improving employee engagement is an investment in your organization’s long-term success.
Discover why CRE leaders are investing in new technology to improve employee engagement. Watch our webinar with Verdantix analyst Susan Clarke.
3 Ways CREs Can Improve Employee Engagement
1. Focusing On User-Friendly Buildings And UX
More corporate real estate leaders are considering the user experience as a primary factor in their leasing decisions. Fifty-one percent cited building design as the most important factor in their building selection, according to the CBRE survey.
And nearly 60% said they would be willing to pay a premium of at least 10% for a building contract that offered desirable amenities.
Workplace design is an important factor in recruiting, engaging and retaining employees.
In fact, in a survey by Capital One Work Environment, two out of three employees said they believed workplace design is “equally as important or more important than workplace location.”
What do employees want most in their workplace? According to the survey, the most important factors are:
- Natural light (62%)
- Artwork (44%)
- Reconfigurable furniture and spaces (43%)
- Collaborative spaces (37%)
- Places to rest and relax (25%)
2. Use Flexible Space
As more organizations use agile talent to find the most highly skilled professionals, they are recognizing the value of flexible space.
For many, that includes a mix of dedicated office environments, business incubators and coworking spaces. The chart below shows the most common types of flex spaces used today.
Even within traditional offices, workplace leaders are moving away from assigned seats in favor of more agile work environments like activity-based working.
Forty-five percent of company leaders say they plan to make significant use of flexible space over the next three years, according to the survey, compared with just 25% currently.
In addition to reducing costs, flexible space can help organizations expand their workforce faster.
3. Make User-Friendly Technology A High Priority
Technology in the workplace has long been an important factor in the employee experience.
While innovative, user-friendly technology can increase productivity, improve collaboration and automate manual processes, technology that is dated or has a poor user experience can push employees out the door.
Today, technology is increasingly viewed as a means of achieving people-centric ends, the CBRE report states.
What types of technology are having the greatest impact on company operations?
Artificial intelligence and machine learning top the list, with 83% of corporate real estate leaders ranking these among with top three technology concerns.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is next, with over half of leaders citing it as a top concern.
These technologies are being implemented with the goal of improving employee engagement and the overall workplace experience. That represents a shift from a previous focus on managing buildings.
- IoT sensors are no longer just about managing occupancy; they are being implemented to ensure employees have access to the right mix of spaces and can find their way around
- Energy management systems once used primarily to control costs are now considered an important factor in optimizing occupant comfort
- Predictive analytics aren’t just a way to power intelligent maintenance; they are being used to anticipate the needs of the workforce
As a result, more organizations are thinking about the best way to make the most of the technology they already have. They are weighing the pros and cons of hiring in-house data analytics managers versus hiring agile talent to help them glean more valuable insights from their workplace data.
“The post-digital era—where eventually every company will converge and being digital will be the new norm—might become a reality in the real estate industry soon,” the CBRE report states. “Occupiers who think of digital as a process rather than a destination will be at an advantage in satisfying the rising and fast-changing expectations of their customers.”
What This Means For CRE Leaders
To keep employees engaged now and in the future, corporate real estate leaders clearly need to make their workplace design and technology a priority. They should adopt an agile strategy for both—one that allows them to add more space the moment they realize they need to hire new employees, and also allows them to add new applications that integrate easily with their existing technology.
Cloud-based platforms with open APIs offer that flexibility, giving workplace leaders a cost-effective way to solve future challenges without investing in expensive hardware.
The cloud also allows leaders to provide the user-friendly technology their employees expect, such as mobile apps that help them find the people, places and assets they need to be productive. Improving employee engagement starts by building connections with them and among them—and technology is a critical part of that.