Research is proving what workplace leaders have known all along: a better employee experience isn’t just good for employees. It’s great for business, too.
According to a 2016 study by MIT, companies with high employee experience ratings enjoy increased engagement, higher levels of innovation and customer satisfaction, and four times the profit when compared to their lower-rated competitors.
To help you create an unparalleled employee experience for your people—and reap the benefits this can bring to individuals, teams, and even your company’s bottom line—we’re going to break down all of the tools and techniques you can use to improve the employee experience in your organization.
“Employee experience is defined by work complexity—how hard it is to get work done in your organization—and behavioral norms around collaboration, creativity, and empowerment.”
Building Business Value with Employee Experience
MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research
A study by Globoforce Workhuman Research Institute and IBM Smarter Workforce Institute defines employee experience as “a set of perceptions that employees have about their experiences at work in response to their interactions with the organization.”
As a concept, employee experience has its roots in Customer Experience. Research found that improving the end-to-end experience customers had with an organization had a significant impact on margins, profitability, revenue, brand loyalty, and competitiveness in the market.
So, when similar efforts were placed on improving the overall experience for employees, huge benefits ensued and employee experience was born.
Actively investing in employee experience management and creating a positive employee experience isn’t just for the benefit of your employees. It can also have a beneficial impact on many aspects of an organization, including:
Although it may take time, trial, and error to achieve, cultivating a positive employee experience is a no-brainer investment when you consider the far-reaching benefits it can have on your organization.
Employee experience is the journey an employee takes with an organization—everything from pre-hire to post-exit. Whereas employee engagement describes the psychological needs that must be met in order to perform their work effectively—things like emotional and social needs, improving skills and deriving a sense of purpose from work.
Employee experience and employee engagement are not the same thing, but they are frequently confused.
“When it comes to improving employee experience one size does not fit all.”
Director of Workplace & Employee Experience at Honey
How to Build an Unforgettable Workplace for Your Startup
Despite emerging data proving that a better employee experience is good for everyone involved, the act of cultivating a positive employee experience (aka “employee experience design”) is still a relatively new concept, if only because employee experience is linked to variables like culture, structure, and resources, which vary greatly from organization to organization.
As Francis Aquino, Director of Workplace & Employee Experience at Honey, told Workplace Unplugged:
“[When it comes to improving employee experience] one size does not fit all. That’s been my personal philosophy working with different companies, founders, and industries. I always make time for discovery and immersion when I join a new company. Anything that I successfully implement at one company may or may not be successful at another company.”
So, if the process of improving employee experience is unique to each company, where are you supposed to begin? Well, according to Aquino, the journey always starts by familiarizing yourself with the culture and tone of your organization.
“To improve employee experience, it’s very important to get to know the individual culture, voice, and inner quirks of a certain environment within an industry. Spending a good amount of time in the discovery and immersion stage almost guarantees a successful implementation.”
Where you choose to go from there—meaning how you prioritize, improve, and invest in employee experience—will depend on resources, budget, time you have available.
To help you craft the ideal employee experience for your organization, let’s take a closer look at all of the ways you can improve the employee experience in your workplace.
Workplace technology is improving at breakneck speed. Every time you blink there’s a new app or tool designed to improve life in the workplace. And while the array of options can sometimes feel overwhelming, research is consistently showing us that workplace technology is good news for individual employees and workplace leaders.
For example, 92% of employees say that having the technology to do their job efficiently directly affects their work satisfaction.
Here’s a look at the technology that can improve the employee experience in your organization.
Integrated Workplace Management Software (IWMS) is the new normal for forward-thinking companies who want to make life better for their workforce. Unlike hyper-focused CAFM, CMMS, and EAM facility software solutions, IWMS technology gives workplace leaders and employees a broader array of features and tools that vastly improve the employee experience.
For the employee, IWMS software gives employees apps and tools that help them digitally interact with their workplace. A robust IWMS helps employees quickly locate colleagues, book shared desks, find resources, submit facility requests, request to move desks, and book meeting rooms. In addition, workplace management software will allow the employee to perform these tasks on any device—mobile, desktop, tablet—making it quick and easy for the employee to stay connected to the workplace.
And because cloud-based IWMS platforms can integrate with other crucial workplace applications, they also help FM teams collaborate efficiently with HR, IT and other workplace leaders and, together, create a better overall workplace experience.
If you’re new to the idea of workplace management software, learn more about CAFM, CMMS, EAM and IWMS solutions.
When desk sharing goes awry for an organization, it creates frustration among employees who just want to find a desk and get down to work. In fact, having a bad desk sharing program is often worse than not having one at all. Desk booking software helps organizations avoid that, by helping facilities teams create a frictionless, customized approach to desk sharing.
There’s a lot to consider with desk booking software. Consider the following pros and cons of hot desking before selecting which desk booking software you’ll use to make life better for your people.
Pros of hot desking and desk booking:
Cons of hot desking and desk booking:
If your teams have ever been frustrated by scheduling conflicts and a lack of meeting space, you’ll know how important room booking software is to the employee experience. When room booking software is integrated with an IWMS, employees can use any device they like to find the right room for their needs and book it on the spot.
When workplace sensors are installed in meeting rooms and integrated with your IWMS, the sensors can increase meeting room availability by detecting and canceling no-show meetings on your meeting room calendar.
Room screens work to eliminate no-show meetings in a similar way. If nobody checks into the meeting on the room screen, the meeting space is automatically released so that it can be used by someone else.
Intelligent room booking software can also identify and eliminate recurring bookings that are no longer in use. Commonly referred to as “zombie meetings”, this type of recurring booking is usually owned by an employee who is away extended leave or who no longer works at the company. Room booking software automatically identifies that these bookings are no longer in use, and removes them to free up meeting space.
If you’re having a hard time convincing higher ups that room booking software is a smart move for your organization, it might help to fill them in on the many benefits of implementing meeting room booking software into your workplace—benefits that go far beyond improving the employee experience.
IoT sensors can turn your facility into a “smart” workplace that improves employee efficiency, happiness, and productivity. Sensors gather real-time data and key insights that help workplace leaders optimize the workplace; they can also automate key tasks that go a long way to improving employee wellbeing.
For example, sensors installed throughout the workplace can automate tasks like free addressing and room booking management, and when integrated with an effective building automation system, can also take care of lighting, climate control, and security. Free addressing, and room booking management, keeping your facility running smoothly at all times.
Although there are plenty of things to keep in mind when considering workplace sensors IoT sensors are relatively inexpensive and easy to install considering the long list of benefits they can bring to an organization.
Tools like Visual Directory® give employees access to interactive real-time floor maps of their facility on mobile, desktop, and tablet devices. Beyond simply finding their way around the workplace, employees can use Visual Directory® to connect with colleagues, book rooms and resources, submit facility requests, and access shared desks. Any changes that happen in your facility are immediately updated on Visual Directory, meaning employees always have the most up-to-date information at their fingertips.
With Visual Directory on hand, it’s easy for employees to see who sits where, connect with their peers, and find the resources they need, without putting additional strain on your facilities team. As you can imagine, this technology is especially for new hires who are still finding their feet during their few weeks on the job.
If your organization is currently using spreadsheets and printed floor maps to help employees find their way around, introducing a tool like Visual Directory is a huge win for employees and facilities teams.
Wayfinding kiosks are a cutting-edge response to the drawbacks of traditional workplace maps. Powered by a technology like Visual Directory, wayfinding kiosks are typically installed throughout a facility on dedicated kiosk hardware, standalone ipads, and wall-mounted touchscreens. These kiosks help site visitors and employees access key company information in real-time. For larger offices and those that frequently change layouts, room functions and seating arrangements, a dedicated kiosk can mean the difference between frustrated employees (and guests) and empowered teams.
In general, workplace communication apps can make it quicker and easier for employees to communicate, collaborate, and get things done. Today, Slack is the current leader of team chat and collaboration, for many reasons. One of its biggest advantages is the tool’s integration with over 600 apps, accounting for a range of categories like analytics, space management and payment processors.
Microsoft Teams and Facebook’s Workplace are new entries into the workplace communication space, aiming to compete with the popular Slack platform. These three apps provide similar features like group chat and file uploading, but each one is designed to appeal to a different type of user and workplace.
As an added bonus, your IWMS platform may also offer a Slack integration that further improves the employee experience. For example, OfficeSpace’s Slack Apps help employees access a range of IWMS features inside their work Slack accounts. This means that employees can stay focused while they quickly book rooms, find colleagues, and submit facility requests without leaving Slack.
If you’re trying to decide whether Slack, Workplace by Facebook or Microsoft Teams is better for your organization, read our guide to Choosing a Workplace Communications Platform.
Meetings, group work, deep-focus work, remote work… it’s important to design your office to support all of the different types of work employees are doing throughout the day.
When employees have the right physical spaces and workstyles on hand, they’re empowered to do their best work—and your overall employee experience rises.
Have you noticed? Flexible working is influencing the traditional office in a big way and research shows that flexible work arrangements actually benefit companies. A study by PWC found that flexibility and productivity are connected; in a global study, 72% of firms self-reported a direct link between their flex work practices and increased productivity. Currently, US employers offer 40% more flexible workplace options for regular employees than they did just five years ago, and remote working has grown by 159% since 2005.
Implemented effectively, flexible working options like remote working, flexible seating, hot desking, hoteling, agile working, activity-based working, and more, can all contribute to improvements in the overall employee experience at an organization. The trick is to offer flexibility in a way that makes life better for your people, not worse.
Although there’s growing speculation that the remote-working trend may be over, remote working is a steady trend that isn’t showing signs of reversing any time soon. Companies must look into their specific circumstances to decide whether remote teams will work for them. Workplaces with proper processes in place to keep team members well connected will stand to gain the most benefits from remote employees.
Engagement levels between remote workers and office workers are dependent on a number of factors. Remote employees that work from home 60 to to 80 per cent of the time have reported the highest engagement levels and longer hours worked on average. Employees that work all hours remotely or all hours in the office reported similar levels of engagement. The trend shows the success of having a middle ground for remote policies, as employees that come into work some of the time tend to be the most effective and most engaged with the larger team.
“Corporations throughout the world only use 50% of their real estate. We help them accurately understand their usage and help companies do more with what they have.”
Hot desking provides an opportunity to improve professional relationships and gives employees more autonomy. Instead of being assigned a desk, hot desking allows employees to select an available desk to work from each day. Hot-desk seating adheres to a first-come, first-served structure, which provides employees with a high level of flexibility, giving them the option to change up their surroundings on a daily basis and sit where they feel most individually productive.
Hoteling is similar to hot desking; however, there is a difference: hoteling requires staff to reserve a space with desk booking software. This allows employees to choose the right space for their needs and book that space to ensure it’s available for the duration.
If you’re new to the idea of hot desking, learn how to create an effective hot desking strategy for your company with these resources:
For organizations that need more flexibility and shared desk availability, free addressing can increase desk usage without the need for the facility management team to manually manage the process.
Unlike shared desks (which need to be booked manually), workplace sensors monitor which desks are available and which desks are in use, reporting this data in real time to a tool like Visual Directory. Employees can simply open up a tool like Visual Directory to view their workplace’s floor plan, view which free addressing desks are available, and sit down—no need to book the desk at all.
Providing comfortable free addressing spaces that help employees choose where they’d like to work for the day can increase productivity, provide autonomy, and have the added bonus of saving your facilities team time, too. The key is using a workplace management platform that helps facilities teams integrate and monitor free addressing over time.
Similar to free addressing desks, workplace sensors automatically monitor and update the availability of desks in “neighborhoods”. The key difference is that clusters of desks that form a neighborhood are typically designed for one specific kind of task. And neighborhood desks are only available to those employees who have been assigned to that neighborhood.
Adding neighborhoods to your floor plan can increase employee collaboration and teamwork. So if your marketing team needs a “war room” to hash out details of their next campaign, or your accounting team needs a quiet space to crank out work during tax season, neighborhoods serve as the ultimate workspace for whatever your employees need. Neighborhoods are a great way to encourage community, team building, and collaboration due to their tailored nature.
Agile working provides employees with maximum flexibility. Employees are free to work remotely, work from the office, or a combination of both. At work, staff can choose whether they want to work from a standard desk or something different, like a standing desk or a non-traditional space. While agile working focuses primarily on the employee, activity-based working encapsulates this and adds the element of collaboration.
Activity-based working, like agile working, also focuses on providing employees with the freedom to choose where they work; however, while agile focuses on the individual employee, activity-based working emphasizes collaboration and teamwork, which generally works well in open office environments. Activity-based working includes areas like quiet work spaces or alcoves, collaboration spaces, meeting rooms, huddle spaces, and alternate work spaces like benches or sofas.
Both agile and activity-based working are concepts that recognize staff engages in many different activities during the day and should be able to choose work settings to accommodate them. Embracing these new work styles means that employees must be provided with an environment to support this. As a result, companies and facility management teams must design their offices to embrace these different types of work spaces. This evolution of workplace culture and design based on work style is directly reflective of the new technologies that make it all possible.
Workplace culture has a huge influence on the overall employee experience. Companies that actively create a culture that fosters wellbeing and empowers employees to do their best work can expect your employee experience rating to rise.
On the flipside, companies that treat workplace culture as an afterthought—or completely ignore it—shouldn’t be surprised when employee experience ratings dip, and issues like absenteeism and talent retention start to impact productivity, output, and the bottom line, as high turnover impacts both revenue and expenses.
So how do you go about fostering a workplace culture that improves the employee experience? Turns out, it’s all in the details.
Company perks can have a bottom-line ROI for organizations. In analyzing workplace research, on research, entrepreneur.com found that wellness programs, company outings, and concierge services packed the biggest benefits for improving the employee experience and, in turn, company revenue.
But perks don’t have to be grandiose or expensive to have a positive impact on your employees. It could be as simple as using software that makes hot desking a pleasant experience for your teams, offering nap rooms, or a stipend to help your employees cover healthy activities like gym or sports.
What your company is able to (and prepared to) offer its employees will depend on workplace culture, budget, resources, and a variety of other factors. So do the research and weigh up the pros and cons while you’re deciding what amenities and perks your office needs.
Connecting facilities and HR: 4 ways to make working with other departments easier
Happy employees are productive employees. On paper, that makes sense. But how do you go about creating an environment?
From what we’ve seen with our clients, it’s the sum total of a lot of little things.
Nobody wants to be answering emails at midnight. And yet, major corporations have been exposed in the press for subjecting employees to these (dare we say) anti-employee experience policies.
Needless to say, the implementation of policies that promote and protect employee wellbeing will directly improve the employee experience at any organization.
Some examples of this concept in action include:
Creating a culture that supports every demographic in the workplace is key to good employee experience. Designing an office for millennials vs designing the office for older workers has been a hot topic among business blogs and magazines. According to some studies, millennials prefer open plan working, while older workers may not be as open to hot desking and hoteling as their younger counterparts. So which one’s better for enhancing the employee experience?
Well, it turns out that older and younger workers all want the same thing.
According to Jeremy Myerson, Director and Chair of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the Royal College of Art, old and young employees “crave quiet and privacy when they want to concentrate on solo tasks, or dedicated tools and spaces for collaboration when they want to work in a team.”
Creating a culture (and spaces) that offer employees the opportunity to engage in group, shared, and private work throughout the workplace, everyone wins—and your employee experience improves.
If you’re new to the idea of creating a culture that works for a variety of demographics, check out these helpful guides:
Taking a proactive approach to diversity and inclusion can help your employees feel safe, heard, and respected. Research has consistently shown that diversity and inclusion in the workplace can also enhance the employee experience and improve a company’s bottom line.
Gender-diverse companies are 21% more likely to see above-average profitability and 27% more likely to create longer-term value than their non gender-diverse competitors. Diverse, inclusive teams make better decisions up to 87% of the time. Decisions made and executed by diverse teams delivered 60% better results. And a study by Catalyst that included participants in Australia, China, Germany, India, Mexico, and the United States, found that the more included employees feel, the more likely they are to drive innovation in their job and help other team members do the same.
You can foster diversity and inclusion in the workplace and, in turn, improve the employee experience by:
Working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean a better quality of work and happier, more fulfilled employees. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
A study from Gallup found that 23% of people polled report being burnt out at work either “very often” or “always,” and 44% of people surveyed felt burnt out at work “sometimes.” In other words, two thirds of full-time workers experience some level of burnout. A shorter work week is one of the more effective solutions to this challenge.
Several benefits come with working fewer hours, including:
It’s important to note here that working fewer hours doesn’t mean not working as hard (research shows shorter work weeks can improve productivity). Instead, it’s a call to work smarter and to maximize the time you have while in the office.
At its core, an effective mental health strategy in the workplace preserves, protects and retains human capital. It supports employees’ mental health so that they can leave work in the same— or better—mental health as when they arrived at work.
Actively creating a mental health strategy and ensuring that your office design and layout is positively impacting mental health can prevent psychological injury, promote psychological wellbeing, and support employees who are experiencing a mental health problem or illness.
Employees are bombarded with thousands of stimuli every day, some of which have a huge impact on employee experience. This is why the physical workplace is constantly evolving, and with it, the alignment of office design, culture, and work styles.
Today’s modern offices have a different look and feel to them than a traditional 20th century workplace filled with grey cubicles—or even a standard, turn-of-the-century open office with rows upon rows of identical desks.
As new technologies are integrated into everyday office life and work habits serve as a reflection of these new technologies, company culture will continue to rapidly change while more flexible ways to work are increasingly embraced.
So, what can your organization do with its resources to create a workplace design that improves the employee experience?
“69% of businesses that implemented healthy building features reported improvements in employee satisfaction and engagement.”
The Drive Toward Healthier Buildings
Bringing the outdoors into the workplace has been shown to create a better environment for employees, reduce lighting costs, increase productivity, reduce stress, and improve employee moods. In fact, a Human Spaces study on biophilic design found that employees in offices with more greenery and natural elements were 15% more creative.
As a design concept, the act of plant-ifying your workplace is called biophilic design. Understanding biophilia isn’t terribly difficult; if you’ve ever seen living walls, office gardens, interior landscaping, greenspaces, and plants throughout the office, you’ve experienced some form of biophilic design.
Gone are the days of providing staff with just a desk and a chair. Employees expect a higher degree of functionality and flexibility in their office spaces—and whether this includes standing desks, couches, quiet rooms, or collaborative spaces, employers should offer the maximum range of options to ensure their employees are at their most productive.
If you need some help sourcing workplace furniture for your people, check out these guides:
Countless studies have shown that natural light promotes a healthy corporate culture. It can even reduce company overheads. Improving the presence of natural light in your workplace has been linked to better sleep, reduced energy costs, and less eye strain, along with increased productivity and an improvement in mood.
Reducing noise in the workplace—or, rather, helping your employees find peace and quiet, especially in open office environments—can have a huge impact on quality of work, productivity, and overall employee wellbeing.
Giving employees more quiet time during the workday can be as simple as allowing everyone to wear headphones during work hours, or offering flexible hours so employees can start earlier in the day, when your workplace is quieter and there’s less chance for disruption.
If excessive noise is a constant issue for your people, here are some simple ways to set up an office for employees who need quiet space.
This really should go without saying, but if the air quality in your facility is subpar, your employees will suffer and so too will their ability to stay productive. If it’s been a while since you monitored air quality levels in your workplace, here’s a facility checklist for healthy buildings. Actionable steps an FM can take to improve air quality in the office include:
“Studies done by NASA and other organizations show that plants absorb harmful toxins and pollutants in the air, reducing the effects of sick building syndrome and improving employee wellbeing.”
Biophilic Design Consultant at Plant Plan
The Truth about Live and Artificial Plants
In an ideal world, every employee would have a custom-fitted Herman Miller chair, standing desks, and active workstations as an ergonomic baseline. But few companies have the kind of budget to cover even that level of ergonomic support.
Even so, the cost of ignoring ergonomics in the workplace is steep. Research has shown that “the economic burden as measured by compensation costs, lost wages, and lost productivity, [is] between $45 and $54 billion annually.”
In the short-term, simple fixes for bad office ergonomics can include things like:
Long-term, any improvement your company can make to employee comfort, health, and wellbeing will go a long way to improving employee experience across the board.
“A lot of the companies I am working with are very forward-thinkers…and they see the value of improving employee engagement, reducing employee absenteeism and improving employee satisfaction. So it is a huge shift. Ten years ago I would talk about it and people would just roll their eyes.”
President of design and ergonomics firm E3 Consulting
Holistic Workplace: The Future of Ergonomics
6 Ways A Bad Office Design Stresses Out Workers
It shouldn’t be surprising to know that bad office design can stress workers out. So what can you do to counteract it? Well, if the design of Facebook’s HQ is anything to go by, achieving an office design that actively improves the employee experience. In Facebook’s case, this involved:
Facilities managers can influence office design by championing effective desk sharing programs and improving natural light, acoustics, noise reduction, and shared spaces.
If your company is looking to upgrade its approach to office design, check out these guides to brainstorm ideas and guide the planning process:
So how do you measure employee experience when the setup and implementation of this concept are different from one organization to the next?
Understanding which measurement tools you can use, and then creating a customized approach that works best for your organization is key.
Here are the baseline workplace metrics every facilities manager should track in order to measure employee experience:
Understanding and monitoring these key metrics over time will give your team insights into how employees are interacting with your facilities, levels of employee satisfaction (per building, department, etc), and help you identify areas that could be improved.
Workplace survey tools like Culture Amp help companies survey their way to better facilities management. Make sure you choose the type of workplace survey to gather feedback from your employees.
Here are the most common workplace survey types best suited for measuring employee experience.
It should also go without saying that if you want helpful, usable feedback from your employees, the onus is on you to ask the right questions in the right way.
Here are some tips on how to write a facilities management survey:
While one-on-one employee interviews may not be the most sustainable approach for larger companies, they often yield high-quality, candid, in-depth feedback that other measuring methods simply cannot elicit.
Soliciting useful feedback from employees is all about asking the right type of questions.
Here are some questions to ask in employee interviews to measure your company’s employee experience:
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