For talented candidates, it’s a buyer’s market out there. Given a stunningly low unemployment rate of 4.1 percent, talented workers are itching – and able – to explore their possibilities. Employees are no longer as worried about losing their jobs. They know that they could easily find replacement roles elsewhere in this economic climate.
These shifting dynamics in the talent market have HR professionals scrambling to stop mass exoduses before they start. More than three million workers, on average, resign voluntarily each month. On the other side of the fence, 44 percent of HR directors said in a recent survey that employee engagement was on their radar this year. Additionally, 36 percent of HR directors in the same survey said they needed to focus on staff member retention going forward.
Many businesses are struggling to find effective, economical ways to keep their strongest team members on staff. What many of these same businesses overlook is the fact that the solution may lie, in part, in the office environment itself.
Organizations around the world are investigating how their own workplaces can foster productivity and engagement. For example, the Mayo Clinic has been conducting experiments on a willing contingent of its workforce, with researchers changing desk heights and playing annoying sounds throughout the day to see how workplace environment affects employees.
The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) conducted a similar workplace test, revamping its Washington, D.C., offices to explore how sustainable, healthy layouts affect employee performance and retention. Thus far, the organization has seen increased efficiency, a 19 percent improvement in absenteeism, and lower turnover. ASID predicts the office redesign will pay for itself within the next decade.
Both of these trials illustrate the strong correlation between purposeful, dynamic workplace design and a happier, more effective workforce. Given how free today’s talent is to move around, now is the time for organizations to make some changes to their workplaces.
To prevent top employees from walking out the door, organizations should consider using the following strategies to transform their office spaces with relative ease:
1. Turn Static Office Arrangements Into Flexible Ones
Modern employees expect their workspaces to adapt to their needs. Executives must understand that the best approach to employee workspaces is, “What do you need to give us your best work?” instead of “Here’s what you’re getting, so make the best of it.”
Work/life balance is no longer a buzz phrase, but an essential component of employee happiness. It is difficult to achieve this balance without a flexible work environment that lets employees do what they need to do in order to perform. This doesn’t have to mean upending all the elements of a workplace. For instance, a movable wall or two can offer adaptability without any fuss, transforming an open space into a conference room in a matter of minutes. Similarly, on-site gym allows workers to prioritize their well-being without leaving the office.
2. Prioritize Movement Through Wellness-Focused Workflows
If your employees are like most workers, they sit for 90 percent of their days. This is a huge problem, as a chronic lack of movement can lead to a range of serious health problems. By promoting activity in the workspace, you can foreground wellness, get your workers moving, and even foster more collaboration.
For example, rearranging your office to encourage movement by centralizing office equipment – like printers, trash cans, and copiers – will encourage more activity through the workday. Remember, your actions as a leader speak louder than words. Everyone from the CEO down should embrace this shift toward increased movement.
3. Take Design Down to Simpler Levels
Like rigidity and inactivity, complexity in workspace design can kill motivation. Declutter chaotic “hot spots” by reducing all equipment and furnishings to as-needed levels. For example, sit-stand workstations give people the choice to sit or stand throughout the day without requiring two different furniture pieces. (It’s worth noting that a Texas A&M study found that workers with “stand-capable workstations” were about 46 percent more productive than their seated counterparts.)
Simplicity also means making small changes that make a big difference, like reducing unpleasant odors by installing air fresheners or blocking distracting chatter with low-volume ambient noise.
Simplicity that combines functionality with attention to detail makes everyone’s life a little easier, and it can help employees tailor their workstations to their individual needs. No two coworkers lead the exact same life, so why create an office that treats every employee the same?
The fastest way for a company to lose momentum is to keep doing what isn’t working. If your employees aren’t sticking around as long as you’d like, perhaps it’s time to revisit your office design. Consider how an active workspace that fosters flexibility, movement, and simplicity can benefit both your bottom line and your workforce’s well-being.