Have you got a nap pod in your office? How about a ping pong table?
If not, don’t fret. Trendy office games and quirky benefits are in fact a distraction to workers. That’s according to our latest research; whilst 40% of business owners believe office games and similar benefits are important to employees – just 5% of workers agree.
Instead, it’s being valued and recognized that’s the most important aspect of work, our research found. Employees want to feel empowered, respected and appreciated at work.
This isn’t about fluffy nice extras; it’s about fulfilling your employees’ need to be appreciated. If they don’t, they are likely to be unproductive and destructive to team morale, or just simply leave. The workplace is changing drastically from even 10 years ago. Workers want more autonomy, more flexibility, more creativity, more meaning and more progression in their work – and what workers want is different for each individual.
People Companies – organizations where leaders let their employees know how valued and important they are to success – know what their people want. They know what drives them. So before you do anything: ask your employees. Almost half of workers (47%) have never been asked by their employer what will improve their experiences and impact their productivity, and only 12% are asked on a regular basis.
Employee wellness is a great place to start though. Finding the right work life balance is important for happy and engaged workers. So how can employees stay healthy and happy at work, and how can you support them? Here are 7 habits to start you off.
Encourage employees to move around in the workplace
Japanese researchers at Yamaguchi University found that relocating to a café instead of sitting at a desk all day could help people be more productive and focused. This is because the constant background hum of other people’s idle conversation is much less distracting than conversation between colleagues.
If it’s not possible to leave the office, then encourage employees to break out into communal areas such as the canteen or the lobby. Create quiet spaces around the office where people can take their laptops and work in a less formal setting or just take a break.
HR and People teams can lead by example and be seen to be working from different parts of the office, provided they are not discussing confidential matters in a public space. This would have the added benefit of meeting other employees and being seen as approachable.
Encourage flexible working
Allowing flexible working could relieve the stress considerably for some employees, for example those with young kids or elderly parents to care for. Being able to come in a little later or leave a little earlier is invaluable.
Some companies offer on-site crèches for their employees, but this may not be possible if you have a small to medium sized business. HR and People teams can ensure that there is a clear policy on this so that employees know that they have options and can talk to HR about flexible working.
Today’s technology enables people to work remotely and flexibly which helps immensely with the work life balance, but the flip side is that often they are online all the time, sending emails day and night and expecting others to do the same.
This is where remote working can be counterproductive, with workers not feeling able to switch off. Employers can set the bar here by not sending out emails to employees out of work hours unless absolutely necessary and respecting regular work hours.
HR and People teams can draw up the company policy on this and communicate it to everyone. Although you can’t stop the rogue few who are intent on sending emails at anti-social times, you can make it clear that employees are not expected to respond until its working hours.
Many companies already provide subsidized subscriptions to local gyms, provide free workout classes, and encourage biking to work schemes. Some provide health insurance, which extends to family members and free annual checkups.
Although we have included exercise in this list, this one is not going to be the absolute clincher in keeping employees happy unless of course they chose to partake. Also, benefits such as health insurance is likely to be more important to older workers, than first time job entrants, for example.
HR and People teams could let employees vote on what type of in-house lifestyle session they would like, for example yoga, pilates, massage, etc. In this way, you can gauge how many people will take up the class and more people are likely to turn up. Also, ensure that all health benefits such as exercise classes or gym subsidies are well communicated.
Support volunteering in the workplace
Surveys show that employees, especially the younger generations, are driven by a need to do good as part of their work life. A study by the Pew Research Center in 2010 found that millennial place a higher priority on helping people in need (21%) than having a high-paying career (15%).
Designating a company charity or allowing employees to pursue pro bono activities on company time meets millennial’ desire for social consciousness.
Encourage your workforce to take holiday by not allowing them to carry over days or limit the amount they carry over. Most importantly, ensure that it is company culture that workers are not contacted during their holidays and are not expected to be checking emails.
HR and People management teams can make it clear in employees’ contracts, on the holiday booking section of the intranet and in the company handbook that holiday means holiday and workers are not expected to work at all during this time.
They should also make it clear that if any employee has been asked to work during their holiday, they should feel comfortable talk to HR or any superior member of their team confidentially.
Tidying desk, tidy mind
Clutter in the office equals clutter on the mind! Encourage a tidy office, doing away with paper files and encouraging employees to save everything electronically.
This ultimately is good for the environment and cheaper for the company too. HR and People teams can implement clear out Fridays before any major holiday like Christmas and Easter when many people go on vacation so that they come back to a tidy desk
There’s no silver bullet
Ultimately, workers have to feel that they have purpose, that they are listened to, have career progression and are compensated well. Team building exercises, onsite gyms and comfy break out areas are all helpful, but they won’t be the clincher when it comes to hiring or retaining staff.
First and foremost, they want to feel respected and valued at work and this includes enabling them to live the life they want to outside of work too. Good people managers will look beyond the perks and ask their employees what they need in order to have a meaningful life at work.
Why should HR and People teams be doing this? Low unemployment and the war for talent have given people choice, and organizations must therefore work harder to attract and retain the best talent. Do you want to be a company that loses the best talent – or attracts them?
Do you know what workers want? Download our latest research on the views of 3,500 employees today to find out.