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Amenities That Matter: What Brings Employees Back to the Office

Marissa Huber • 11/22/2021
Delivering amenities and perks that really matter to your employees.

The purpose of place External Link is evolving, and if amenities and perks mattered prior to COVID-19, they’ve become even more important today. That’s because today’s employees are not only expecting them, but they’re also demanding them. With a reported 10.4 million job openings up for grabs across the U.S.1,  employees have the upper hand in today’s tight labor market2.  In other words, they have more choices in how and where they work. So, in this critical time when attracting and retaining top talent is key, it’s imperative that employers give their employees the office and workplace experiences they truly want and value. 

After all, if they don’t get it from your organization, they can easily take their needs and skills elsewhere. According to a recent Gallup survey External Link, 63% of employees believe it is “very likely” or “somewhat likely” that they can find a job as good as the one they have. And 51% of currently employed workers say they are actively looking for a new job or watching for openings.

Organizations should resist the urge to overanalyze declines in employee engagement and instead focus on improvement going forward. There are plenty of challenges and opportunities ahead that will impact future engagement, including how to run a hybrid workforce, keep employees safe, and balance new work/life flexibility issues.”

— Greg Barnett, Chief People Scientist of Energage, the company that collects and analyzes the data used in the nationwide Top Workplaces awards program

So, how can employers bring their people back into the office in a way that supports these new demands and ways of working? One way is through the right mix of amenities and perks that really matter to your employees.

Amenities that matter

Office-based workers have proven they can be productive working from home, so they are looking for a workplace that provides a more positive impact — a place with amenities that make it worth getting ready in the morning and undergoing their commutes. They want amenities and perks that really matter. From the flexibility to come into the office to participate in fireside chats with their CEO to pet daycare for their pandemic pups with separation anxiety to onsite massages, employees want amenities and perks that demonstrate they are seen, valued, and appreciated…in the office. To meet the growing demands of the built environment, nearly all industries are leveraging highly-amenitized buildings to attract and better serve the office-based workforce.
 
Highly amenitized buildings are especially attractive to tech, business and financial services firms
 


Amenities in Action

Cushman & Wakefield advises the world’s top companies who are providing employee-focused services and experiences to remain competitive in the labor market and evolve to meet employee demands. Below are some real examples of companies delivering amenities that matter.

Amenities in Action

coffee cafe (image)
Retail Client’s HQ Transforms Traditional Coffee Bar into Amenitized Social Hub

Our experts guided the client through the planning and renovation of their existing barista-operated coffee bar into an employee self-service area with a free high-end coffee machine, keg with cold brew and kombucha, and ice machine, etc. The space was completed with a large island for events and employee seating.

Positive benefits: The employer realized cost savings by eliminating labor to operate coffee bar), while the employees’ experience at the HQ was improved by the newly free beverage offerings in a space that now serves as a social hub for the office.

Bike Rack (image)
Employee Surveys Prioritize Technology Client’s Amenities and Drive Action

Our employee surveys enabled the client to identify pain points and prioritize their highest valued amenities, which included onsite food areas and a shower facility adjacent to an existing bike room.

Positive benefits: After creating these spaces, we measured a material increase in employee satisfaction.

Space (image)
Financial Services Employees Get Fresh Air with Space Conversion

Following complaints of poor air quality and heating, our teams advised the client to covert densely staffed, enclosed offices. This augmentation of the space limited capacity from three to four seats to one, which enabled the client to convert four adjacent offices per floor into conference/collaboration rooms. In total, the conversion decompressed six enclosed offices per floor.

Positive benefits: The increase in conference rooms improved air quality, comfort and elevated the employee experience.

WEllness (image)
Healthcare Services Client Drives Teams Back into the Office with Wellness Amenities

The team advised the client to convert an underutilized central café with minimal seating into a juice bar and wellness training space. The new space is being designed to house blood pressure reading equipment, stationary bicycles, aerobics classes and a pop-up area for guest speakers.

Positive benefits: The conversions will deliver a desired incentive for employees to come into the office, giving them a healthy space to disconnect from work and support their wellness goals.

Moments that matter, too

In addition to amenities, perks are another impactful way to welcome employees back into the office to create moments that matter. Mentoring, shadowing high-level team members, meetings with company executives and enabling access to role models within your industry and across functions are all significant perks and benefits those employees are increasingly looking for in a company. These connections have proven to help an organization’s people feel more valued.

“Consider changing some of the perks you offer to employees to show they’re valued. Forty-five percent of [our survey] respondents say the top reason for staying at their company is vacation/PTO benefits. Health coverage (34 percent) and work flexibility (29 percent) also were also among top answers.” 

          — Michael Hughes, West Monroe Partners3

When it comes to your company, you might consider a monthly company-wide drop-in that brings disparate teams together to meet, collaborate and socialize, leading to unique bonding experiences. Or offering corporate discounts on clothing rental such as Rent the Runway. The bottom line is that when it comes to bringing people back to the office, it’s time to think outside the box.

Moments and experiences employees really want

Quadrant Graph (image)

Source: Cushman & Wakefield, Strategic Consulting

Discover and deliver what matters most to your employees

Wondering what amenities your company needs to offer to get your employees back into the office?  That answer depends on what your employees value most. Take this unique opportunity in time to reflect and reevaluate how you want your teams to feel when they are in the office.

To identify the perks that matter most in your workplace, leaders across corporate real estate (CRE), human resource (HR) and business units must ask thoughtful questions such as: What are our employees most passionate about? What are their personal and professional values? What makes them feel safe, productive and valued in the office? What spaces and technology do they need to do their best work? What will make them feel appreciated, make their lives easier and their workdays better? For the answers to these questions…ask, then listen.

In an April 2021 global employee study released by Limeaide4, an employee experience software company, 56 percent of employees surveyed reported that they haven't even been asked by their employers how they feel about return to office policies. Further, 45% reported that their company either doesn’t take action based on survey results, or if they do, only to a small extent.

“Instead of focusing on the logistics of getting people back into the office, I encourage leaders to see this moment as an opportunity to ask employees, ‘what do you want work to look like in the future so that you can do your best work and take care of yourself?’ and then really listen and act accordingly. The outcome would be profound, both for people and for businesses.”

— Dr. Reetu Sandhu, Director of the Limeade Institute

The time is now to uncover the key drivers for your employees to return to the office and execute a strategy to deliver on what you’ve learned from their expressed needs.

  1. Talk to your employees at all levels. Develop a strong sense of what they need in this post-pandemic workplace. Don’t assume, but instead identify what your employees prioritize, value and don’t need from their office experience. Tools like our free Experience Per Square Foot Pulse Check survey helps organizations connect with their employees and identify what matters.
  2. Consider your budget and long-term strategy. Identify the investment in perks and amenities you can make as an integral part of your labor and portfolio strategy. Perhaps empower your employees to vote for the changes they want to see so they too have a stake in that change.
  3. Execute, communicate and manage change. Deliver a comprehensive implementation and change management plan to ensure your culture is fully aligned with and ready to embrace the changes to your offices and interactions. It is imperative that your employees see their feedback come to life and feel free to fully engage with your new amenities and perks programs.

Cushman & Wakefield can help you ask the right questions, analyze the data, make amenity decisions and manage change. From onsite amenities that welcome and encourage employees to engage with their workplace and colleagues, to perks and programs that align with their personal values and professional goals, we can help you discover what matters most to your employees and deliver it to them.

Let’s get started.



U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, October 12, 2021.

2 Trading Economics, global unemployment rates, October 2021. U.S. unemployment rate of 4.8%.
3 Keeping Employees Loyal in a Tight Labor Market, September 2018
Employee Care: Defining the New Normal, April 2021; 4,553 full-time employees, over the age of 18, representing France, Germany, United Kingdom, Australia and the United States.
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