In an article published by Gensler, a global design and architecture firm, the question is posed: Could your workplace be doing more to win the war for talent? For example, your HR department put together a well-crafted job posting that persuaded several candidates to apply; your company’s website made them interested in your business’ core values; your company’s social media presence impressed them.
Virtually speaking, you’ve succeeded in winning them over. They’ve dressed to impress and put their best face forward as they prepare to meet your team. But what has your company or institution done to impress them? What first impression will the workspace have on them? Does it even reflect your organization’s culture and values?
With talent already in short supply and with this trend growing exponentially in the next decade, intelligently managed organizations are scrambling to enhance their physical workplaces in the next decade. They understand well the importance of leveraging physical workplaces to attract and retain good talent. And as we enter a post-pandemic era, the war for talent will heat up even more than in past years.
Transforming Your Physical Workspace Into a Cultural Asset
A lot of great research has been conducted on how physical workspaces drive cultural change within an organization. Contrary to the traditional workspace concept, workspaces should be more than an assemblage of offices, desks, cubicles, and technology. Physical work environments truly affect the way in which people get things done; it serves as the foundation of an organization’s culture, whether purposely or as an unintended consequence.
Physical spaces are more than places for people to physically work; they should also be how they work. When thoughtful and strategic effort is put forth, successful workplace designs drive cultural change. It promotes employee leadership, innovation, and collaboration.
The Gensler article cites a survey conducted by Workforce Magazine where HR professionals were asked to explain factors currently motivating cultural changes in the workplace. Respondents prioritized the necessity for improving retention, engagement, innovation, and collaboration. In order to build organizational culture, the respondents also identified the following strategies as being especially effective:
- Clearly communicate the organization’s mission and values
- Establish a stringent cultural training program
- Hire people who fit with the organization’s culture
Five Ways to Build an Engaging Physical Workplace
In a 2017 Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report, over 70 percent of employees aren’t engaged at the workplace. This was once thought to be merely a problematic trend. However, the lack of employee engagement within the workplace has become commonplace. The residual effects have led to countless negative consequences for employers. Among these consequences, poor employee engagement results in decreased productivity, higher turnover, greater absenteeism, and less creativity.
While organizations can’t force employees to be more engaged, creating work conditions that inspire and empower employees will increase the chances they will. If your ultimate goal is to build a culture of engagement, here are five tips on how to accomplish this.
1. Define the Definite Mission of Your Organization
What does your organization do? What’s your organization’s style? How is your organization different from its competition? In order for employees to be engaged, you have to give them something to be engaged in. In other words, engagement requires direction and focus. Additionally, employees want to know their role is important to the organization. To attract top-grade talent and improve employee buy-in, your organization must develop an employee proposition—one that defines your organization, as well as the benefits of being an employee of your organization.
2. Commit to Your Employees’ Success
One of the biggest reasons for the lack of employee engagement is that organizations don’t seem committed to their employees’ success. There are different reasons for this, all of which vary from organization to organization. To attract and retain employees who are dedicated to your organization’s success, you must show them the same dedication. Most importantly, commitment to employee success must be genuine, not merely something that is written within a mission statement.
This means coaching them; training them; helping them develop their skills and abilities. It means investing in them and providing opportunities to grow within the organization. In this way, your employees will see that you’re committed to their present and future success; they’ll know that you trust them. Through your commitment and trust, they’ll show you the same in return.
3. Give Recognition to Employees Who Go Above and Beyond
In many cases, engagement isn’t simply about getting the job done. Encourage your employees to put forth the extra effort by rewarding it. A great way to promote this is by instituting formal recognition programs. Employee recognition shows current and future employees alike that your organization values their work. By making such a program formal, you’re not only ensuring continuity but guaranteeing longevity.
4. Encourage Innovation, Feedback, and Even Criticism
One of the most crucial ways to understand what makes your employees tick is by hearing from them where and how the organization could improve. The best way to utterly kill engagement is by listening to their feedback and criticism. By doing so, you not only provide them with a sense of ownership but you can improve the culture and work environment. It’s never a good idea to dictate policies, practices, and procedures from the top down; such things should be developed from the bottom up, with the help of your employees.
5. Promote a Healthy Work-life Balance
Candidates are seeking employers who value the individual by encouraging work/life balance—by valuing family and personal commitments. Today’s employee expects employers to be willing to offer flexibility according to individual needs. This may mean completing 40-hour workweeks in only four days or allowing remote work when capable. It goes without saying that flexible work schedules may not be a good fit for every organization. Nonetheless, employers must use wisdom when considering the benefits. Could it possibly widen the talent pool? Could it have a positive impact on some people’s productivity? Could it improve retention rates?
In this post-COVID-19 world, people are beginning to head back to work while others are reinventing themselves. The pandemic has taught many of us some very valuable lessons. The primary question for us leaders is: have we learned anything? Because the workplace has changed forever, whether we’ve changed with it or not.