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The Power of Workplace

by Jessica Palm | Apr 01, 2016

What happens when a room full of corporate recruiters gets to design their ideal work environment?

Recruiters are on the front lines for corporations, and as many of you have experienced the workplace environment can either be a hindrance or a powerful tool. This week, TeamKC: Life+Talent partnered with Alissa Wehmueller, workplace design expert with Helix Architecture + Design to explore the impact the workplace environment has on attracting and retaining talent. Alissa shared research on the benefits of investing in the work environment, as well as best practices for how a company can achieve the greatest impact from their space.

What is the value of investing in your workplace?
There are a wide range of studies related to employee retention, engagement and attraction that have evaluated the benefits corporations experience when they invest in their workplace environment. A recent Work Design magazine article highlights how making that investment can enhance recruitment, lower attrition rates and increase profitability.

“A 2014 Hassell study indicated that the combination of strong overall culture and facilities actually outweighs salary and benefits when it comes to accepting a job offer. Moreover, a 2015 Chandler MacLeod study found that nearly three quarters of candidates would consider a slightly lower salaried position in a company that their friends have communicated is a great place to work.”

When you factor in the savings of employee retention -- it can save a company $250,000 per employee -- the financial benefits alone are a substantial payoff.

We can’t all be Google
As the workplace landscape shifts, there has been some backlash against the open office work environment in the media the last few years, including the widespread - Google got it wrong. Actually, Google got it right - for Google. But that doesn’t mean their environment is right for you. Ping pong tables, slides and yurts are not the key to a successful environment - understanding how your associates work and what they value is.


So where do you start?
Creating the ideal space for your organization is a balance of qualitative and quantitative data. Bringing on a workplace design expert early to guide this info-gathering phase ensures that you are starting off on the right foundation of data. This information will guide the layout, furniture and amenities to make sure your company is investing in the right choices and gaining the greatest value for your employees and the company.

What are the elements of a progressive workplace? While the best solution will vary from company to company, there are three key factors we find are consistently driving the success of progressive work environment:

1. Choice
2. Wellness
3. Telling your story

Trends will come and go, but creating a flexible environment that responds to the unique needs of your people and showcases your culture will pay dividends in retaining and attracting talent to your organization.


Choice: How do you accommodate different work styles?
One size does not fit all. In fact, one size doesn’t fit most. For the last 20 years the development of the desktop computer tethered us to our desks, but today’s technology allows us to work anywhere. This flexibility creates a tremendous opportunity to give employees the spaces and tools they need to support a variety of work styles.

Various work styles don’t just accommodate different individuals, but also the different tasks one individual might do throughout their day.

And it's not just about millennials. In 2015, the U.S. workforce was composed of five generations:

2% Traditionalist
29% Baby Boomers 3
4% GenX
34% Millennials
1% Post Millennials
- Pew Research Center 

Creating an environment that supports mentoring, collaboration and knowledge sharing across all of the generations in the workforce elevates the entire organization.


Wellness: Can you leave your office healthier than when you came in?
Is it possible to create a space that reduces stress and helps promote physical well-being? Employers have increasingly recognized the benefits of investing in initiatives that help improve the health of their associates. The loss of productivity and revenue that companies experience due illness can have a tremendous impact on a company’s bottom line.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reports that poor employee health accounts for some 45 million avoidable sick days each year and lost annual revenue of between $1,900 and $2,250 per employee.

This is particularly relevant to the design of workspace because of the amount of time we spend at our offices each day and the impact that our environment has on our physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Some of the ways you can positively impact your associates include:
-  Develop a space layout that encourages physical activity
-  Select ergonomic furniture to promote good posture
-  Provide a connection to the outdoors Integrate spaces that offer refuge from distractions -  Provide amenities that help foster relationships

These strategies contribute to health, engagement, happiness and overall job satisfaction.       

Telling your story: Does your space align with your brand?
If you took your logo off the wall would visitors know who you are? What does your physical environment communicate about your culture?

“Out of 3,000 workers surveyed, only 41% say they know what their company stands for and how it differs from their competitors.” Gallup’s State of the American Workplace 

Using your space to communicate your mission, vision, values and company culture is a powerful tool for employees, clients and potential candidates. It clearly communicates that your company is “walking the walk” and investing in their culture.


How would you define your ideal environment?
We wrapped up the evening with an interactive exercise that allowed teams of recruiters create their own company and design their ideal workplace environment for potential new hires. There were some fun elements (who wouldn't want to work for a “Technology Party Planner”!) alongside some really well thought out solutions.

Does your sales team love to golf? Incorporating a putting green into the outdoor space can provide a break in the workday and help them keep their short game on point.
Are children your clients? Create a fun, kid-sized entryway that makes your space memorable.
How can you make portions of your space feel like home? Many of us feel like we get our best “focus-work” done at our own homes so creating a quiet, comfortable space that is free of distractions can offer the same relief during the workday.

Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful questions, big ideas and insights into the solutions you’ve implemented in your own workspaces!

Where do we go from here?
The needs of a modern workplace are constantly evolving alongside the people who work there. We would love to keep the dialog going on what is or isn’t working in your own work environment, the feedback you’re hearing from recruits or any great resources on creating an exceptional workplace for your people.

To learn more about the power of workplace, connect with Alissa on LinkedIn, send her an email or tweet us at @helixKC and @AlissaMay. To learn more about TeamKC: Life+Talent, contact Jessica Nelson


Leave a comment
  1. DinaHaines | Nov 20, 2017
    great post
  2. Malina | Jun 23, 2017
    Aweome. I just loved it.
  3. Diana | May 15, 2017
    This type of message always inspiring and I prefer to read quality content, so happy to find a good place to many here in the post, the writing is just great, thanks for the post.

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