At Staples Advantage, our goal is to help businesses be more productive every day. A big part of productivity is dependent on employee satisfaction. That’s why we set out to identify and measure top workplace trends across the US, surveying thousands of workers to determine how employees are affected by everything from office design to job stress to work/life balance. The Staples Advantage Workplace Index is a comprehensive inside look at what makes employees strive to work harder, and what makes them sometimes look elsewhere.
Key Highlights of the 2015 Staples Advantage® Workplace Index
With one out of every four workers suffering from burnout, employee engagement has become a top priority for businesses recognizing the need for a loyal, productive staff. According to the inaugural Workplace Index Survey by Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples, there are a number of factors, from office environment to working practices, that can contribute to a more committed, productive and loyal workforce.
The Staples Advantage Workplace Index benchmarks trends, including job satisfaction, productivity and office design in the United States and Canada, surveying more than 2,600 officer workers. The resulting data paints a picture of a professional environment that demands companies and employees to do more with less. “It’s not a surprise that employees are feeling overworked and burnt out,” said expert Dan Schawbel, founder of WorkplaceTrends.com and managing partner of Millennial Branding. The survey results explain why some employees feel burned out and pinpoints what companies can to do make employees feel positive about their workplace.
- Burnout from working long hours is a key cause of low productivity. According to the survey, 1 in 4 office workers are experiencing burnout from working long hours, which is likely to have a negative impact on productivity. Burnout can be reduced by encouraging workers to take a break, cut down on unnecessary or unproductive meetings and minimizing email overload.
- Job satisfaction is the key to staff loyalty. Eight out of 10 workers who are the most dissatisfied with their jobs are currently looking for a new job. According to survey responses, this can be avoided by instilling a positive work culture, building trust in the leadership and ensuring staff feel challenged in their work.
- A flexible workplace plays an important role in fostering a positive work culture. Only half of all unhappy workers have access to a flexible work environment, while 70 percent of happy workers report having some workplace flexibility. By offering flexible working options, such as telecommuting and ensuring employees feel free to take a break when they need to, employers can build a stronger bond of mutual trust with their employees. Employers who offer the most flexibility experience the least employee churn.
- Having the right technology and tools for the job is critical for productivity and minimizing employee churn. Poor technology was identified by employees as one of the top three causes of poor productivity, while the most satisfied employees are much more likely to have access to the latest technology, such as mobile phones, laptops and iPads.
- It’s not the size of your office, but how you make use of the space that’s important. An open office plan can deliver a productive, energetic and fun working environment but when things don’t work out, it becomes noisy and disruptive. A more “closed,” traditional format, can also be productive and has a strong personal feel when done well.
Recommendations — An Action Plan for an Effective Workplace Culture
An effective workplace culture is productive and has low employees churn. But how do employers achieve this? According to the Staples Advantage® Workplace Index, employers can use several tactics to ensure employee engagement and loyalty remains high.
Reduce employee burnout
- Monitor the time employees who put in too many hours for prolonged periods of time and encourage them to take a break.
- Manage meetings effectively: Avoid unnecessary meetings and ensure all meetings have clear agendas and an agreed list of actions.
- Minimize email overload by developing policies to reduce spam email and encourage employees to use email effectively.
- Offer flexible work environments and encourage a flexible work approach.
- Encourage a workplace culture where people feel free to take a break when they need to. Discourage a culture where people feel under pressure to remain at their desk just “in order to be seen to be doing something.”
- Look for opportunities to build loyalty –– employers who are flexible enough to help employees when they have a genuine problem find that their employees are more loyal and willing to work harder.
Make sure people have the right tools for the job
- Understand what technology workers need to do their jobs effectively and make sure they have access to it.
- Remember that in addition to hitting productivity, poor technology also demotivates employees and leads to higher employee churn.
- Investment in technology demonstrates to employees that their employer is committed to moving the business forward. An unwillingness to invest in technology undermines employee confidence in the leadership.
Make effective use of office space
- Plan open work spaces when it makes sense to promote a vibrant, creative environment that naturally encourages collaboration and communication, while remaining aware of some of the pitfalls that may come with an open office environment, such as noise and disruption.
- Use traditional “closed” office spaces where it makes sense to promote productive, personalized working spaces, while ensuring staff in such spaces don’t feel isolated, ignored or remote from other coworkers.
The results of Staples Advantage® Workplace Index clearly show that how employers choose to organize, equip and run their workplace can significantly impact the performance of a business. High employee churn or poor employee productivity often have little to do with “what” employers do and more to do with “how” they choose to do it.