Are employee morale and productivity really linked to workplace accommodations? For many people the answer is a resounding yes. Imagine if you worked in cramped conditions with poor lighting or weird smells to contend with on top of a trying to do a good job. Certainly people’s views of what makes a great physical work environment can range from the New York luxury high-rise layout to the simple start-up where furniture or artwork is often secondhand. There are, however, a few essentials to creating an optimal physical work environment that will keep people humming. Here is a snapshot of the types of findings that link employee satisfaction to the quality of the office design and furnishings.
A survey conducted by the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) found that almost 3 out of 4 employees are not satisfied with their physical work space. Even more troubling for managers who want to attract top talent, nearly 50% of candidates report that an employer’s office environment impacts their willingness to take a job offer. It doesn’t have to be flashy, but good lighting and reasonably new furnishings do make a difference. Happily, what mattered most to respondents in the ASID survey was that the workplace be neat and clean. That’s something that most managers can help make happen even on a shoestring budget.
Technology & Equipment
For many employees, having the right tools for the job outweighs other considerations when it comes to the work environment. This is especially true in fields such as software development where having uninterrupted ‘flow’ is critical for getting a lot done. Dell has accumulated research from several universities (Wichita, Utah, & Georgia) that show knowledge workers consistently express greater satisfaction with a dual monitor setup vs. a single monitor. Their ability to work quickly and efficiently improves measurably as well. Interestingly, the increase in satisfaction is pretty much the same with two 17” monitors as it is with two 22” monitors. This may make it easier for manager to get the budget they need to upgrade employees’ equipment.
Ergonomic task chairs have been studied more thoroughly than any other type of office furniture. For example, Steelcase conducted a 12 month study that demonstrated a 17.8% increase in productivity for employees using the Leap ($879) compared to a run-of-the-mill office chair. Workers consistently report higher levels of comfort in ergonomic chairs; less pain is an obvious factor in greater overall satisfaction. Managers making decisions about outfitting their department with furniture would do well to allocate a sizable portion of the budget to office chairs that are designed for maximum comfort.
This is one perk that boosts employee satisfaction across every industry and job position. It’s also one that managers can implement right away. You don’t have to rebuild the facility from the ground up to enhance morale. Just offer workers more control wherever possible. This includes:
- Providing accessories to customize the workstation (tool rails, keyboard trays, etc.).
- Relaxing the cubicle decoration rules to allow plants, artwork and photos.
- Giving employees tools to adjust lighting, block out workplace noise, and manage temperature in their immediate environment.
In a marketplace that has is highly competitive wet it comes to finding good talent, companies need to look at all aspects of their employee value proposition. The difference between getting the next rising star and a dud is weighted on many factors including how a person feels when he/she comes to work. Think about your work environment and see if you can make a few changes to enhance the way people interact and connect at work.