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Workplace Strategy: The Key to an Engaged Workforce

Kelly Mann • 3/3/2020
The very best leaders at all levels understand that connecting with people is more important than focusing only on problems, profits and projects. Workplace Strategy, which envelops culture and change support, is more important than ever.

With the unemployment rate in the US at historic lows, it is getting much harder to find and keep qualified candidates and more expensive to train new candidates. Replacing workers cost employers $617 billion in 2018, compared with $331 billion in 2010, according to a report by Work Institute External Link. But it isn’t compensation that is motivating employees to leave – less than one in ten workers say salary and/or benefits are the top reasons for leaving a job. Instead, workers are citing work-life balance, manager behavior and career development. So, although the old saying may go, it appears that it is not all about the Benjamin’s, but how employees are engaged.

Not only does it help with retaining talent, companies with high employee engagement are also 21% more profitable than those without. So, what exactly is engagement in the workplace, how does one create an engaged workforce and why is it important?

Let’s start with what many clients will say: ‘we work hard at making employees HAPPY. We provide snacks, games and sit-stand desks! Our employees ARE engaged just based on what we give them to make them happy!’ However, a HAPPY employee is not necessarily an ENGAGED employee – engagement doesn’t focus on what employees are given but how employees are connected.

How do we define an “engaged employee”?

On a basic level, an engaged employee has an emotional commitment to the organization and its goals. A more in-depth view shows that an engaged employee is:

  • Enthusiastic and dedicated toward their job
  • Passionate about their work which is reflected in their individual outcomes
  • Feel that their performance makes a difference for the company and will go the extra mile without being asked

But an employee can’t simply be engaged without the organization having a roadmap for success. Creating an engaged workforce starts with an engaged company – one with strong and authentic values, evidence of trust for their employees and two way promises (between employers and employees) that are understood and fulfilled.

 

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Company culture and employee engagement go hand-in-hand, but culture is certainly the egg that comes before the chicken. If organizations can uphold the standards that they’ve set for themselves, it makes it much easier for employees to follow.

Once the company has a hold on their values and goals, there are many ways that an organization can start the pattern of engagement with their employees: 

  • Encouraging FLEXIBILITY: this is the number one item employees are looking for in an organization. Flexibility with how they work, where they work and when they work. This doesn’t mean everyone is remote or that there is no time structure. However, it does mean supporting the Work/Life Blend (no longer a balance but a blend) and having set expectations within the company that this will be supported and not viewed as “special treatment”. When employees have support in being flexible, they become more committed. 
  • Providing a Road Map for Success to Their Employees: give feedback throughout the year (build people up for a great year-end review), encourage development, pinpoint employee talents and put them in the right place so they don’t fail!
  • Recognizing and Rewarding Good Work & Showing Appreciation: everyone loves bonuses and monetary compensation, but emails/notes that show appreciation are a more meaningful connection for everyday work. This kind of recognition doesn’t only come from management but also from peers!
  • Creating an Authentic Atmosphere: open door policies, two-way communication, transparency and “rules of engagement” are critical.
  • Providing a Sense of Purpose: Employees want to feel that the work they do matters and that the company they work for is committed to values and goals that they share.
  • Having FUN: work hard/play hard. No one wants to work someplace that doesn’t have fun!

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So how can Workplace Strategy help create the engaged employee? Let’s start with the basics.

When it comes to Workplace Strategy, many clients aren’t 100% sure what it entails – does it involve changing all their furniture, making all seats unassigned or upgrading technology? Truthfully it means many things to many companies – it depends where a company is on their on strategic path of engagement. But a good definition is as follows:

  • Workplace Strategy is the study of an employee’s experience within the office environment. 
  • The goal of workplace strategy is to align the physical office space with the company’s business strategy, goals and corporate culture.

There is no one size fits all when it comes to Workplace Strategy. Sometimes clients fully understand their goals, culture and footprint but may want to make some specific tweaks to employee engagement; while others might understand how much they pay per square foot and per employee, without much further insight into how to engage their workforce. Regardless of where the client is on their workplace journey, there is a way that Workplace Strategy can be implemented to get to the next step.

Cushman & Wakefield has the tools to help employers engage with their employees. Our Strategic Consulting experts will help you create a workplace strategy that positions you for what’s next to meet your business goals. Cushman & Wakefield’s unique approach provides a full life cycle from concept to reality.

By using our Workplace Strategy platform, it gives us the opportunity to come in and look at an organization’s real estate footprint, their employee base and their goals and figure out how to align them. Some activities that may come out of this:

  • Optimization of space
  • Including more technology solutions
  • Engagement studies
  • Furniture swap out or enhancement
  • Culture building
  • Change Management
  • A mixture of all the above and more

If you or your organization is looking to take the next step when it comes to employee satisfaction and engagement, feel free to contact our team.

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