Actively disengaged workers continue to outnumber engaged ones at a rate of nearly 2-to-1, according to Gallup’s most recent 142-country study, “The State of the Global Workplace.” Disengaged employees tend to be unhappy and unproductive and are unlikely to make positive contributions to the workplace. Conversely, engaged employees are more productive, have lower turnover rates, lower absenteeism and drive higher profits.
But rather than focusing solely on engagement and culture, a growing trend in many leading organizations is to improve the employee experience as a whole as revealed in a Feb 2017 Deloitte Insights Report. In the study nearly 80 percent of executives rated employee experience very important (42 percent) or important (38 percent), but only 22 percent reported that their companies were excellent at building a differentiated employee experience.
Redefining the employee experience
Employers must now focus on the person and the experience and not the process. Through new approaches such as design thinking, business leaders are compelled to rethink the roles, structure, tools, and strategy they use to design and deliver an integrated employee experience. A great example is Airbnb which recently announced the appointment of a new Global Head of Employee Experience to oversee and connect everything to do with their “workplace as an experience”. A vision which is central to their culture and customer-centric approach, positioning the employee experience as critical to the business, not Human Resources.
Several elements came in to play when designing the perfect employee experience. Models such as the one below have represented a starting point to address a variety of issues: meaningful work, the purpose of the organization, employee talent development and growth, rewards and wellness, the work environment, fairness and inclusion, and authenticity among management and leadership.
Simply Irresistible Organization™ model
Designing the physical workplace
While positive work environment includes elements such as recognition, diversity and fairness, the physical workplace plays a significant role in defining the employee experience. The physical work environment can have a strong impact on employee wellbeing and engagement. Studies such as Gensler 2013 Workplace Survey sheds light on the relationship between design and business performance showing that employees who are highly satisfied with the places they work are also the most highly engaged.
The best designs appeal to most, if not all, of our senses and have the unique ability to evoke a range of emotional responses. Sensory design elements such as colors, lighting, sounds, textures and smells are now purposefully adapted to enhance the work environment and increase productivity. Several companies are already utilizing building design to improve employee experience. Deloitte’s Amsterdam office, The Edge, has lighting that is automatically designed to keep people energized while conserving power throughout the day.
Incorporating Olfactory design
Knowing that employee attitudes are largely shaped by the environment in which they work, creating inspiring surroundings that engage all the senses can have a tremendous effect. From layout to lighting, a number of factors have been found to have a dramatic effect on performance in the workplace and scent is considered one of them. Our sense of smell has a direct connection to the emotional and memory center of the brain, meaning that the right scent can directly affect how we feel and behave.
Scent within the workplace can instantly transform a space and allow the mind to focus, unwind, or be stimulated. Scent can be used to improve mood, make employees more alert, reduce clerical errors and stimulate cooperation. Scents designed for the workplace are selected for their ability to increase productivity, enhance the working experience, affect stress and mental focus.
Our recommendation is to avoid candles and air fresheners that use semi-caustic raw materials and instead opt for a professionally diffused luxury fragrance that is formulated per EU/UK allergen safety standards.