What makes a great workplace experience?
It’s not an easy question to answer. Companies today are constantly looking for new ways to engage employees and create an environment in which employees across generations love to work.
Conventional wisdom says a surefire way to engage employees is to provide lavish perks. But in Edition 6 of Connection Magazine, best-selling author Jacob Morgan shared that a great workplace experience requires a more holistic approach. Businesses need to look beyond just perks and broaden their focus to include technology, physical spaces, and company culture.
Today’s workers have grown up in an increasingly mobile and connected world, and they expect workplace experiences to be seamless and intuitive. This includes providing hardware such as modern computers and mobile devices to enable communications, productivity, and software such as easy-to-use apps for video conferencing and team collaboration. In fact, the technology a company offers its employees influences a full 30 percent of how they feel about their workplace experiences.
Mirroring the experiences workers have at home, companies can enable employees to better share information, foster collaboration with remote teams, and work seamlessly from anywhere, anytime, and on any device.
Choosing the right tools for employees pays big dividends in driving engagement and satisfaction. In our recent research on how technology can improve employee and customer engagement, 83 percent of employees indicated that a seamless communication platform would boost retention — encouraging them to stay longer with a company. Even the types of tools matter for the new generation entering the workforce, with 62 percent of workers ages 18–34 saying that team messaging and video meetings motivated them to work harder.
Increasingly, business leaders are beginning to realize something employees have known all along: A comfortable, pleasant physical environment makes a big difference in creating a positive workplace experience.
Creating an environment that employees find appealing can include many different elements. The floor plan, the color of the walls, and the art to name a few, all influence how employees feel at work.
Many businesses deprioritize the physical environment in the workplace experience, both due to the cost and the perception among leadership that employee preferences constantly change. But Morgan’s research suggests that a pleasing environment is just as important as workplace technology, affecting a full 30 percent of the employee experience.
With the right technology accounting for 30 percent of the whole experience, and the importance of physical space taking another 30 percent, the largest contributing factor in achieving a successful workplace experience, Morgan says, is the company culture, which makes up the remaining 40 percent.
A company’s cultural environment, which includes the way a company establishes and communicates its values, its practices, and its core mission, is not only critical to a company’s bottom line, it is also essential for boosting the happiness of its employees.
Simply put, company culture is what excites employees or drains their energy; it either provides a sense of purpose, or it leaves them without a paddle.
Company culture has been a leading focus in C-suites for several years, as businesses have begun to understand its value in attracting and retaining employees. Culture is also the most difficult of the three environments to control and implement change. Workplace technology and physical spaces are more concrete and tangible, but the cultural environment is the tone, the mood, and the overall vibe that the employees feel when they walk in the door.
Although many aspects of the company culture can be codified and declared, most of the actual workplace experience comes from the attitudes and behaviors of the leadership team. This includes offering work flexibility and other benefits that once may have been considered unconventional.
For example, with the communications technology available today, an employee’s physical location has less bearing on the work being done. This means being able to work from home instead of bringing germs to work when you’re sick, or making yourself available for appointments and deliveries at home, no longer requires taking the day off.
Unspoken and unwritten guidelines are inescapable in the workplace and are often daily guides for employees. The right combination of technology, environment and culture will assure that employees have every chance to be successful and happy on the job.
It can be easy for companies to see employee happiness programs as just one of the many costs of doing business. But done properly, there are definite returns. How much, Morgan says, depends on the strategy.
Not every company is able to offer catered lunches, on-site gyms, and the latest laptops. But every company can take steps to improve their workplace experience by giving their employees the tools they need to succeed, providing appealing physical spaces, and building a positive, supportive company culture.
Employees who feel they are valued are happier, more productive, and more likely to go above and beyond to delight customers.
Originally published May 01, 2019, updated Aug 11, 2020