Companies have now known for a while that the classic corporate vacation system is broken. In recent years companies like Adobe, Netflix and Twitter have tried out more progressive approaches such as an unlimited time off policy, only to realize after trying it out that letting employees take time off whenever and as frequently as they wish wasn’t better. In these instances, social pressure and competitiveness made employees take even less time off than they would with the 2 weeks off mandatory policies. This is because when employees don’t know how much vacation time is acceptable, they hesitate and prefer to ask for less in order to not be the person taking the most days off.
So what’s the best approach? Scheduled vacation? Although still in its trial phase, this policy consists of having a mandatory vacation period for the entire office after a certain amount of time. Implemented by SimpliFlying, a small global aviation strategy firm, results showed a significant increase in creativity, productivity and overall happiness. The key in this being that once the 7 weeks are up everybody at the company takes a week off therefore removing the pressure and guilt felt by individuals for not being at the office. This concept was inspired by Stefan Sagmeister, who shared through his TED talk how and why he takes a year off of work every seven years.
Recognition and reward are a big part of keeping employees engaged and content. Doing so can be achieved through gamification. This relatively new concept has been proven to motivate employees and get them in a competitive mindset allowing for improved productivity. Gamification is being used more and more by companies both on their employees and on their clients. For example, have you ever seen how hybrid cars display to their driver the amount of CO2 or trees saved? This small but important information prompts the driver to make behavioural changes in the way they drive in order to accumulate as many “points” as possible. In the same way, office managers are implementing similar elements of gamification into their offices with the help of apps such as GoSpaces. It’s a simple yet effective way to boost employee engagement while simultaneously promoting social responsibility, creating a sense of comradely and promoting efforts to be financially smarter.
3. Promote well-being
Happy and healthy employees are productive and efficient. That’s why more and more companies are adopting programs to help keep their workers’ health up. Although workplace wellness programs aren’t anything new, they have evolved tremendously over the recent years. These programs promise all sorts of economic benefits, such as reduced medical spending and absenteeism, and increased employee productivity and satisfaction. Here are some creative examples; Asana, a software company, provides “nap rooms” for team members to doze off, recharge and de-stress when it all gets to be too much. SAS another software company offers subsidized, onsite daycare for parents. Lastly, the best example of this might be Google, known for their futuristic work campuses. They offer an all-encompassing wellness program including healthcare services, financial advisors, fitness services and classes, professional skills classes such as guitar and cooking lessons, and kitchens and cafés stocked with nutritious healthy foods.
In addition to these programs, work-life balance is encouraged through flexibility. For many jobs now, there are no longer definitive reasons that require workers to come into the office every day from exactly 9 am to 5 pm. Consequently, more companies will continue being more flexible as long as it successfully keeps employees engaged and less stressed.
4. Smart office spaces
We all know how much of an impact our environment has on our mood and productivity. Being at an unorganized, sombre office desk automatically creates stress whereas being in a clean and comfortable open-space office doesn’t. It’s no wonder we are seeing office design being used as a tool by many companies. A global study by Steelcase on more than 12,000 participants found that there is a strong correlation between high workplace satisfaction and high employee engagement. Consistently, the most engaged workers were those who had more control over their work experience, including the ability to concentrate easily, work in teams without being interrupted, having energizing areas that stimulate collaboration and having access to quiet spaces to retreat. The ideal office consists of different zones, each providing for one aspect of our working environment. Workers who have the ability to choose where they want to work in the office based on the task at hand are much more engaged in the work they do.
Here are the three most important zones companies should implement into their office design;
quiet areas to focus and concentrate,
areas for social and informal connections and collaboration
having diversified spaces to allow employees to change postures while working.
These changes give a sense of control to employees and let them enjoy the time they have to spend at the office.
5. Internal career development
Last but not least, employee workplace satisfaction and engagement has been strongly linked to the possibility of career development within a company. Unfortunately, a 2018 survey by The Conference Board shows that only 37.5% of employees feel content with their potential for growth. To change this, companies are starting to invest in educational and job training programs as well as internal career development. Corporations like Goldman Sachs are hiring career coaches to provide guidance that aligns with the company’s strategic goals. In addition, job-training programs such as career mentoring and job-related seminars are gaining popularity as more and more millennials join the workforce. People are the most valuable asset in any organization, therefore investing in the employees benefits the employer in the long run. Job training programs and career coaching are proven to help with employee retention and result in improved abilities and skills. In addition, demonstrating to your employees that you care about their growth and happiness further curates a positive work environment and company culture. Developing opportunities for your team to grow also makes them the perfect candidates for new openings in leadership roles whenever someone steps down.