When do you think was the last time an employee of yours was unproductive at work?
Maybe they checked social media when they had a report due. Perhaps they were finishing some online shopping just before an important sales pitch. It could be happening right now whilst you read this – and, let’s face it, would it really surprise you?
In today’s workplace, it’s even harder than ever to be productive.
Over a third of employees admitted they’re productive for less than 30 hours a week in a recent study we conducted with over 3,500 workers. That’s a whole day each week that they’re in work, but not working. Overall, this low productivity is costing the US a staggering $450 – $550 billion a year.
The answer, our research found, lies in workforce experiences. 92% of employees said this is important to them. That’s huge.
In fact, we found seven common themes from our research on what a great workforce experience means for employees, and, as a result, what gets them working – so, here’s what they were, and our seven tips for building experiences that really drive productivity.
1. Offer flexible and remote working
81% of employees we polled placed importance and value on flexible working.
It’s no surprise considering how the world of work has evolved. Today, thanks to mobile technology, employees are ‘always on’, work longer hours, and – at times – weekends too. Yet the traditional model of being in the office 9-5 remains the same.
Why shouldn’t employees work from 7am and finish earlier if they’re more productive in the mornings, or have international calls first thing? Why should parents have to miss the school run just to be seen to be in the office, when they may be working long evenings too? Why should commuters have to spend three hours travelling to and from work each day, when they could spend that time working from home?
We’re in the middle of a global war for talent – and it’s a war that companies who offer flexible working to employees will win.
2. Think twice about the ping pong tables and office games
Just because all the cool companies have them, it doesn’t mean you should have them too. Not just something our parents would say, but one of the starkest findings from our research; a tiny 5% of respondents said they value office games such as ping pong tables in the office.
Yet, 40% of companies think benefits and games in the office are important to employees.
Ultimately, employees don’t value them as much as employers think. Just because there’s a ping pong table in the office, it doesn’t mean employees are more engaged.
3. Show employees you value and recognize them
What employees did value instead of office games was clear from our research: feeling valued in the workplace and being recognized for the work that they did. 66% of respondents said this was important.
Workers aren’t fussed about quirky benefits or company outings. They just want their employer to say: ‘great job’. They want to feel that their company values the contribution that they’re making to the business.
There are endless possibilities to the ways that companies can do this – from training for managers, to continuous feedback, or peer-to-peer recognition, right down to just saying a simple ‘thanks’.
4. Support worker wellbeing
39% of respondents said they believed HR and People teams could do more to improve wellness at work.
Whether its offering subsidized gym membership, providing free fruit, ensuring there is mental health support in place, or demonstrating at a wider level that the company values employee’s health and wellbeing through an instilled culture, this is something that’s flying up the priorities list for workers – and companies need to pay attention to.
5. Ask employees for their views – and respond
This one’s easy-peasy. Want to know how to build great workforce experiences for your employees? Simply ask them.
Just 12% of employees we spoke to are asked on a regular basis what would improve their experiences at work. Almost half (47%) had never been asked at all.
Companies may be surprised at what employees say. Furthermore, the simple fact of asking your workforce what drives them will show you value their input.
Just make sure that you demonstrate you’re listening by communicating what and how you’re changing – and the rationale if some things are not able to be changed right now.
6. Don’t use guesswork
Our research found that 34% of workers felt organizations could increase their value if they used insights to inform people decisions.
Companies don’t make decisions on supply chains, their finances or distribution based on intuition – so why should they do the same when it comes to their people?
If you want to understand more about what drives your people, look at your highest performing teams and see what patterns and insights emerge. Apply data science to your people analytics to test hypotheses and understand what experiences they respond positively to. Then use that data to build better workforce experiences for your people.
7. Personalize experiences for a 17 to 70 workforce
From the high school grad who’s entering their first job, to the hyper-experienced baby boomer, for the first time there are five distinct generations in the workplace – each with their own world view, aptitudes, life experience, and expectations about what makes a good workforce experience.
Everyone is driven by different goals and aspirations. Some employees are motivated by money. Others want a great work-life balance. The needs might be different for someone who just moved to New York versus someone who wants to start settling down.
As an employer, you’ll need to create engaging experiences for your multi-generational workforce. Not only that, you need to apply the same diligence to the way in which you attract potential candidates as well, to maximize the talent pool for your business.
Someone returning from maternity or paternity leave might have the best skills and character for the job, but might need more flexible working arrangements; don’t exclude these potential stars from your search.
Get to know your workforce – understand what drives each of them. Then, use that to create experiences that they’ll love – it won’t be the same for everyone.
Being a People Company: your guiding principle
A third of employees saw their HR or People’s team role as creating positive experiences at work – so HR and People teams need to lead this cultural transformation. However, they can’t do it alone. The entire top table needs to be responsible for delivering positive experiences across the workforce.
Why? Because this matters. The better an employee’s experience at work, the more engaged they are, the more productive they can be, and the more the business benefits. It makes economic sense – as well as being the right thing to do for your employees.
Ultimately, it comes down to whether your business is a People Company. Are you an organization where your people are the most valuable asset, and where company success is dependent on their workforce being successful? Do your people know this is the case? Most importantly, do you demonstrate it to them?
If so, you’re taking the first step towards building great experiences that really drive productivity already.
Want to find out more about creating employee experiences that matter? Download our research ‘Why your workforce isn’t working’ today.