More than 50% of employees gave their companies low ratings in at least one of three areas that impact employee engagement, according to a study by researcher and author Jacob Morgan published in the Harvard Business Review. Considering the talent shortages at a time many are calling “The Great Resignation,” this alone should give leaders serious pause.
Morgan’s research of 250 organizations found companies that invest heavily in the employee experience are four times more profitable than those that don’t.
It’s not how much money you spend on employee engagement, but what you spend it on. Part of the issue stems from implementing short-sighted tactics to boost employee engagement instead of long-term employee experience strategies.
The study by author Jacob Morgan identified the three factors that contribute most to the employee experience:
Here are some strategies for each of the three areas to get you started.
After employees have been working remotely for so long, most are eager to return to the office. In a Gensler survey, only 12% said they wanted to continue working from home full-time, while the majority plan to split their time between the office and their home.
However, they necessarily expect to return to an office that looks exactly the way it did when they left.
And in a hybrid workplace where employees frequently come and go, assigned seats may not make sense any longer.
The office environment shapes the way employees work and collaborate with others. A workplace defined by private, closed-door offices and cubicles won’t be as conducive to collaboration, while an entirely open office can be distracting.
As you rethink your office design, think about how to offer the right types of spaces. That includes plenty of conference rooms, informal huddle areas, and small, private workspaces employees can reserve when they need to concentrate on quiet work.
Look for comfortable furniture, natural lighting, plants, and artwork that inspires employees so they’ll want to spend time in the office. Consider what workplace amenities you may want to offer, too.
Even if employees only work from the office a day or two per week, bringing some of the comforts of home to the office will make the transition smoother and will boost productivity.
Consider what health and safety improvements you need to make as well.
With the current health and hygiene concerns, air filters and outdoor workspaces are increasing in popularity. But scientists already know that people working in well-ventilated environments with low indoor pollutants are healthier. They also score significantly higher on cognitive tests.
Some companies are also implementing wellness checks as part of their visitor management system, adding mobile apps for touchless room and desk booking, and adding sneeze guards or dividers around desks.
According to the World Health Organization, the most stressful type of work is “that which values excessive demands and pressures that are not matched to workers’ knowledge and abilities, where there is little opportunity to exercise any choice or control, and where there is little support from others.”
Workplace technology can contribute to that stress if it’s overly complicated or implemented without clear boundaries.
Employees who aren’t as technologically savvy have had to adapt quickly to navigate a digital world without help from a nearby coworker. They’ve also felt the need to stay online longer with more virtual meetings and no clear delineation between home and work.
Employees in the US are online 11 hours per day on average, three hours more than before the pandemic, according to research from NordVPN Teams. Employees in the UK are online 9 hours per day, two hours more than before.
At the same time, technology can offer tremendous benefits when it truly makes employees’ jobs easier. As employees return to the office, they will be looking for solutions that are as easy to use as the apps on their smartphone. That includes technology that helps them find colleagues in their new environment, reserve rooms or desks, and request service.
Look for solutions that bridge the gap between face-to-face meetings and virtual ones, too.
At a recent digital workplace conference, CEO Laurel Farrer advised that hybrid teams shouldn’t be “...some people are in the office and some people are out of the office. It should be a concept of all employees operating the same way regardless of where workers are located.”
People working in the office versus working from home should still have a similar digital experience. This will create smoother operations and equity among employees.
Having a beautiful office with clean air and the best technology won’t keep your employees engaged if you have a toxic workplace culture.
Although the first two take planning and money, they are easier to change than workplace culture. Culture is more nebulous, but when it’s negative, it can ruin your reputation with job seekers and customers.
One way to create a more positive culture is to make it employee-centered. If you don’t know what your employees want, ask them in surveys, company meetings, or informal focus groups.
After health concerns, respondents in a Manpower survey cited losing flexibility and returning to the old ways of working as the top source of anxiety.
This past year and a half proved what’s possible in the workplace. Although employees are eager to get back to work, many want more flexible schedules and the option for some remote work.
More and more, employees are demanding a better work-life balance, professional development, and autonomy over what, where, and how they work. Revisit your leadership style and perspective. Have you changed with the times?
For example, consider the belief that working together means working at the same time and in the same place.
After the shift to remote and asynchronous working, companies realized employees and teams could still be productive, which is why so many are adopting a hybrid approach that combines the best of both worlds.
Organizational culture has to come from the top down and be reinforced through written policy that is consistently upheld by leaders walking the talk, and long-term strategies versus tactical approaches.
To learn more about changing your workplace culture and preventing burnout, check out our latest resource, From Burnout to Bliss: New Rules For Creating Workplace Happiness.
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