Today’s Workforce: Are Freelancers Happier?

In both Canada and the US, the freelance economy seems to be expanding, both in terms of the number of people choosing to freelance and the sectors in which freelancers are finding work. So in our 2016 Workplace Index Study, which surveyed 1,110 employees in Canada and measures workplace trends and work culture, we took a look into freelance employment to get a better understanding of why people choose to freelance, and if it makes them happier than those who are employed full time.

The survey revealed that people generally freelance so that they can control their own hours and improve their work/life balance. And while they do get to enjoy these benefits, only 29% of freelancers surveyed said they would not consider trading their freelance employment for a full time role. That means, over 70% of freelancers might consider moving to a full time position should the opportunity become available. The number one reason they might consider moving to a full time role? Consistent income.

While having an inconsistent income might not be a major perk of freelancing, freelancers revealed that there are many other positive benefits in their employment situation. Among the many benefits listed, the top six include making their own hours, better work/life balance, the ability to make more money, a better ability to navigate a difficult job market with fewer full-time opportunities available, the ability to be their own boss, and the opportunity to choose the projects they want to work on.

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Another perk? The ability to have a voice at work and influence change. When we asked survey respondents how employers could improve the overall happiness of employees in the workplace, feeling heard was one of the top four answers. When it comes to making a difference at work, freelancers feel they have more control and a better ability to make changes happen. 72% said they feel like they have a voice and power to influence change in their work environment, compared to only 57% of full time employees.

But along with inconsistent income, longer hours also have a greater presence among freelancers. 33% of full time freelancers report working more than 40 hours a week on a regular basis, compared to only 21% of people who have full time employment.

Share your thoughts and comments  below – does one employment situation have more benefits than the other?

Looking for more results and insights from the Workplace Index Survey? Download the full report here.

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Employee Appreciation Part 3: Happiness at Work

As revealed in a recent blog post, job satisfaction is key to staff loyalty. Employers with high rates of employee dissatisfaction experience five times the level of employee turnover compared to companies with happier employees.

The motivation behind what creates happiness in the workplace was explored in the 2016 Workplace Index Survey. To get a better understanding of it, we asked Canadian workers and managers:

 What can your employer do to improve your happiness?

Responses varied, but we’ve narrowed it down here to the top five.

Top 5 Ways to Improve Happiness at Work

Increased Salary
67% of people said that getting a salary increase would make them happier at work.

Improved Morale
53% of employees noted that an improvement in workplace morale would help increase their overall happiness.

Recognition for Accomplishments
48% said that being recognized for their hard work would make a significant difference.

Feeling heard
42% noted that feeling heard in the workplace is important to their level of happiness.

Provide more flexibility
35% of employees said that having more flexibility at work (such as flexible working hours, telecommuting, etc.) would make them happier.

This concludes our three-part series on Employee Appreciation. You can click here to read Part 1 and Part 2. Explore the infographic below that contains a summary of details from the Employee Appreciation blog post series.

We’d love to know, what makes you happy at work? Comment below or tweet us at @StaplesBusAdv.

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Employee Appreciation Part Two: 6 Ways Employees Stay Motivated

In the Employee Appreciation Part One post, we explored how important employee appreciation is to retaining your talented workforce. Now, to further understand what it is exactly that makes them feel appreciated, we’ll be looking into some of the factors that rated highest for what motivates people in the workplace.

Motivation in the workplace comes in many different forms. Some employees are motivated by a fast-paced environment and deadlines, others are motivated financially, and some are motivated through simple kind gestures like thank you notes and coffee.

To help us better understand some of the key factors that motivate the majority of workers, we asked the following question to Canadian employees and managers in the 2016 Workplace Index Survey:

What motivates you to do your best work?

The top responses help shed a lot of light on what truly motivates employees. While the responses range, the bottom line remains the same: appreciate your employees and in turn, they will be more motivated to work harder for you. Take a look at the top responses from the Workplace Index Survey.

Top 6 Motivating Factors for Employees At Work

Salary
36% of respondents rated salary as the number one motivating factor at work.
Put it into action:

  • While salary increases aren’t always possible, giving employees an idea of future job paths and growth opportunities can help keep them motivated.
  • Develop achievable goals for them to work towards, keep them aware of areas of improvement, and help them develop career growth plans.


Sense of Purpose
32% of employees feel that having a sense of purpose is what helps motivate them to do their best work.
Put it into action:

  • Keep employees involved – when your employees are aware of the overarching company goals it can help them have a better understanding of how their job and tasks fit into the bigger picture.
  • Open communication – keep communication from an executive level right down to department and management level open and honest.
  • Celebrate the wins and learn from the losses, together. Working together will always give employees a greater sense of purpose.


Passion
27% said that having passion for what they do motivates them along the way.
Put it into action:

  • Praise your employees for a job well done. Instilling them with pride in the work they do can help fuel their passion and drive.
  • Give employees new projects to help them expand on their current skill set and helps them on their career growth path.


Coworkers
25% of respondents said that their coworkers are part of what motivates them at work.
Put it into action:

  • Some personalities work better together than others; be aware of this when planning out your overall office design and desk/seating arrangements.
  • When a project comes up, pair people up that you know work well together.
  • Organize team building events to help bring your team closer together.


Flexible Schedules
23% of employees are motivated when they are given flexibility in their workday schedules.
Put it into action:

  • Introduce a telecommuting plan. Allowing your employees to work from home a few times a week can help improve their motivation.
  • Allow your employees to work flexible schedules (i.e. 8am-4pm, 10am-6pm). Allowing workers to shift their schedules can help combat commuting frustration by avoiding the thick of rush hour. And some employees may operate more productively by a slight time shift in when they arrive to work.


Doing work that has a positive impact
23% of employees want to know that they are doing work that has a positive impact.
Put it into action:

  • Many companies have sustainability or corporate charity goals, so give your employees access to volunteer opportunities that can allow them give back.
  • Keep your employees up to date on donations that the company makes to help give them a further sense of purpose.

There are 10 other factors that made the list of top motivators in the workplace. Find out what they are, download the full Workplace Index Report here.

Do you agree with these motivating factors? Which one inspires you to do your best work?

Employee Appreciation Part 1: Do You Know How To Appreciate Your Employees?

Appreciation at work is a big deal. Your employees are looking for it, and if you’re not giving it to them, you are at risk of losing great talent.

It’s time to dig a little deeper to find out what employees are looking for when it comes to appreciation.

Have you ever stopped to ask your employees what make them feel appreciated? It can be a complex question, and not everyone may be comfortable answering face to face. But if you’re not willing to dig deeper to find out, you could risk losing great people.

In the 2016 Workplace Index Survey, 92% of employees rated happiness at work as important or very important. 92% isn’t a small number. That means the majority of your employees are looking to feel valued and appreciated. So if you’re not stopping every so often to touch base and check in on their levels of satisfaction, their next step might be walking out the door to a different opportunity.

High employee turnover can be very costly to any company – the hiring process and training new employees can take months, which is taxing for company time and resources, and the bottom line. So, perhaps it’s time to take a more in-depth look at what gives your employees those feelings of appreciation.

What is appreciation and how exactly can it be applied to the workplace?

Appreciation, by definition is “the act of recognizing someone’s worth as a person or showing that you are grateful for something that person has done” (source).

In order to recognize your employees’ worth, it would be helpful to know what motivates them in the first place. And to show gratitude, take a moment to understand what elements create happiness for your employees in the workplace.

Motivation and Happiness. These two keys can help unlock the answers to understanding what truly drives your employees. And a better understanding of what motivates them and makes them happy can drastically improve overall satisfaction levels.

Check back on Wednesday as we get a deeper look into the top 6 factors that motivate employees and how you can start implementing them today. And on Friday we’ll explore happiness in the workplace and what you can do to fix it.

What do you think motivates you at work and what makes you happy? Comment below and let us know.

How to Create an Inspiring Workplace in 5 Easy Steps

The open office concept’s rise in popularity has come into question over the last few years, as many question the impact an open office design has on employee productivity. But on the flip side, a closed office layout decreases the opportunities for collaboration and spontaneous brainstorming.  So what layout option works best? Which one will inspire employees to do their best work? The 2016 Workplace Index surveyed a mix of managers and workers to find out.

The Workplace Index findings pointed to a split decision when it came down to the preference of the office floorplan layout and design. When asked what the preference would be, 34% said an open floor plan, 32% selected a closed floor plan, and 34% chose a hybrid option – an office floor plan consisting of fully enclosed office spaces or cubicles as well as open spaces.

Perhaps of equal importance to floorplan flow, those surveyed pointed to a number of features of an office that provide inspiration and add to productivity. Whether stationed in a cubicle or corner office, the following features were among the top rated in terms of what workers and managers are looking for:

  1. Natural light – 43% of survey respondents listed natural light as a feature in the office that they would like to have access to. Natural light is known to boost productivity and creativity among office workers.
  2. Private space – those who participated in the survey noted that they would like to have access to private space to get work done. In fact, 34% listed this as a preferred feature.
  3. Standing desks – the battle of sitting all day continues; 31% noted that a standing desk would be something they would like to have access to.
  4. Lounge areas – while private space allows workers to get their most pressing work done, lounge areas that promote collaboration were also requested by 30% of respondents.
  5. Flexible furniture for multiple uses – in addition to standard office furniture (cubicles, desks, chairs), respondents were looking for furniture that can adapt to their tasks.

Want to explore how you can introduce some of these elements into your workplace? Speak to the experts. The furniture team at Staples Business AdvantageTM can help. For more information, visit: StaplesBusinessAdvantage.ca/Furniture.

How Happier Workplaces Create Better Employees

Standard, plain and dull. Is that how you would describe your office? If you’re nodding your head, you aren’t alone. Standard, plain and dull topped the list of how employees described their office in the Staples Business Advantage 2016 Workplace Index survey. Fun, engaging and motivating were among the bottom responses. This begs the question: are our current office structures meeting the wants and needs of employees?

While the office isn’t necessarily a place to be having the time of your life (it’s still a place of business, after all), a little laughter and office comradery can help increase motivation, employee engagement, and help to increase employee retention. We spend the majority of our waking hours in the office, so it should be a space we strive to make enjoyable so that employees come to work each day with a positive and energized attitude.

Of course there is a fine line between having fun and focusing on the bottom line, but finding the balance might be easier than you think.  Throwing a company carnival might not be in the budget, but simple additions to the workday to boost employee morale don’t have to be big, costly gestures.

Fast Company gives us a list of easy ways to add a little bit of fun to the office, like bringing a pet to work, decorating your cubicle (see our Pinterest board for inspiration), or starting a group exercise club.

There are of course certain industries or workplace scenarios where bringing workers together for a group activity isn’t a feasible or easy task. Celebrating with your employees is great, but simply celebrating your employees through recognition and praise can lead to the same end results: increased motivation and productivity.  Employee engagement levels are almost three times higher when they receive recognition. So if you don’t have one already, now might be a good time to look into an employee recognition program.

Aside from an engaging, motivating and fun workplace, what else are employees looking for from the workplace in 2016? Find out from the 2016 Workplace Index report. Download the full report here.