Hiring and retaining the right people has never been easy.
The pandemic brought down physical barriers, and people can now choose from workplaces all over the world. New work horizons, alongside factors like job dissatisfaction and wage stagnation, led to the Great Resignation — a massive wave of employee resignations starting in 2021.
Historically, companies and business leaders have focused excessively on customer experience (as they should). However, a great customer experience doesn’t happen out of the blue — motivated, engaged, and properly trained employees make it possible.
This, alongside the Great Resignation, is forcing businesses to take a closer look at the other side of the coin: workplace experience.
In this guide, we’ll answer the question, “What is workplace experience?” and explore its importance, benefits, and best practices.
Let’s get started.
Workplace experience is the sum of all touchpoints employees have with the workplace environment. This environment includes three components — the physical office, the digital workplace, and the workforce — as well as the relationship between them.
Some companies also use the term employee experience instead of workplace experience to describe the same thing. However, workplace experience puts more emphasis on the additional aspects of getting quality work done, like flexibility, physical space, and digital tooling.
To truly understand workplace experience and why it’s important, we need to take a holistic approach when looking at these three components and consider how they overlap. This is especially important in hybrid work environments, where people work partly in the office and partly remotely.
As Brent Hyder, President and Chief People Officer at Salesforce, said:
“An immersive workspace is no longer limited to a desk in our Towers; the 9-to-5 workday is dead; and the employee experience is about more than ping-pong tables and snacks.”
Considering that many employees can now work from wherever they want, it’s more important than ever to deliver a positive workplace experience if you still want them to work in the office. And, as you’ll see below, a positive workplace experience involves much more than table games and free food.
Do you ever read reviews on websites such as Indeed and Glassdoor? You know, the ones that lambast poor company culture, a toxic work environment, and a lack of meaningful work?
Well, all those reviews are the result of employee experiences.
When employees have positive experiences working at a company, they’ll typically rate that company highly. On the other hand, when their experiences are negative, they’ll leave bad reviews.
Obviously, you want to prevent negative reviews from happening, as they’ll sour your reputation for potential job candidates.
You don’t want the best talent going somewhere else, after all. Therefore, it’s imperative to create a workplace experience that guarantees employee satisfaction.
As we’ve already mentioned, workplace experience encompasses the interactions employees have with their work environment, which is made up of the physical workspace, the digital workplace, and the workforce.
But how do these components work together to create a great workplace experience instead of a merely tolerable one — or, worse, a terrible one?
As an example, let’s take one of the most important employee experience perks — flexibility. The pandemic resulted in flexibility becoming one of the most important perks for job candidates.
However, offering options for flexible working (like fully remote or hybrid work) has implications for all three components:
The physical workplace becomes more unpredictable, as not everyone works there, 9 to 5, all week.
And that’s not to mention all the other things that make the office environment appealing for employees, such as comfortable lighting and ergonomic chairs.
Therefore, it’s essential for the facilities management department to collaborate with workplace leaders to design the optimal environment for employee engagement.
The digital workplace has become just as important as the physical office. Employees need to have easy access to all the necessary tools to do their best work on any device from any location.
These may include using video conferencing software and a way to book meeting spaces easily. To make this transition as frictionless as possible, the IT team must be involved.
The workforce is also affected as teams become more dispersed. This means you’ll need a strong company culture and evaluation systems focused on results and performance so that employees are guaranteed equal opportunities, regardless of where they choose to work.
As you can see, workplace experience can get quite complex in today’s environment. Companies are scrambling to get the hang of it while rethinking their entire hiring, onboarding, and employee retention strategies.
It’s also telling that among LinkedIn’s 25 jobs on the rise in the US, four are directly responsible for providing a great workplace experience — Human Resources Analytics Manager (number 2), Diversity and Inclusion Manager (number 3), Employee Experience Manager (number 5), and Chief People Officer (number 15).
While a great workplace experience can offer tons of different benefits, the following three are vital for pretty much every organization out there.
Clearly, everyone wants to work for a company that cares about the workplace experience.
That’s why companies are including more and more components of workplace experience as part of their employee value proposition.
Again, going back to flexibility, LinkedIn data suggests that employees are 2.1 times more likely to recommend working for a company that satisfies their need for time and location flexibility.
Besides workplace experience, this also affects hiring strategies and budgets since recommendations and referrals are a much easier and cheaper way to fill positions.
Low employee productivity, engagement, and retention are natural consequences of a poor workplace experience.
You likely won’t be too motivated to work at a company that doesn’t offer a comfortable place to get your work done (physical component), easy access to the tools you need (digital component), or has a poor culture (workforce component).
This also benefits your clients, as employee experiences directly affect client experiences.
As this Harvard Business Review article correctly notes:
As more customers look to align their purchase decisions with their values, they have become increasingly interested in how companies engage with employees and tend to prioritize doing business with those who value their employees, treat them fairly, and prioritize their well-being. And employees are interacting with more customers more directly – and because of that the nature of employee engagement has more impact on customers.
Human-centered workplace design is a pillar of successful workplaces.
As we said, people expect flexibility, which entails offering remote work options while also creating workspaces that suit their needs for collaboration and teamwork, as well as seclusion.
For most companies, this means implementing unassigned seating via desk hoteling, for example. Desk hoteling allows businesses to allocate office space efficiently.
This translates to improved occupancy, a greater variety of spaces dedicated to different purposes (office neighborhoods), as well as reduced desk vacancy.
And with more efficient space usage come opportunities for reducing real estate costs.
Before we dive into the specifics, please note that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to workplace experience.
What we’re describing here isn’t a linear process that you should blindly follow step by step. Instead, these five best practices should be treated as a starting point upon which you can customize the process based on your needs and company culture.
The first step to most workplace initiatives is to gather feedback from your employees.
You can do this via surveys, 1-on-1 interviews, or even all-hands meetings. Your goal here is to figure out what employees are struggling with and identify areas for improvement.
Some questions you should try to answer at this stage:
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Companies with different work models should also add other relevant questions.
Traditionally, HR departments have helmed employee engagement and experience programs.
But as companies start realizing the importance of workplace experience in a competitive job market, they’re also seeing the need to separate the workplace experience function.
Some companies hire Workplace Experience Managers, Employee Experience Managers, or even Chief Employee Experience Officers.
The idea is to have someone (or a group of people) responsible for overseeing, improving, and reporting on the workplace experience process.
Also, remember that workplace experience starts during the hiring process, so reassess your recruitment practices if needed.
As we said, workplace experience is all about three components — the physical office, the digital workplace, and the workforce — and the connections between them.
On that note, technology can help you bridge all three components, ensure a seamless experience, and boost employee engagement.
For example, here’s how a workplace experience platform can help bring people together in vibrant, collaborative, and flexible workplaces:
OfficeRnD Hybrid also offers lots of other capabilities, which you can learn more about here.
This process will look different depending on your organization’s size. But in any case, improving workplace experience will likely require cross-team collaboration.
HR teams are typically responsible for building and maintaining company policies, collecting employee feedback, and making sure new hires are settled into the organization.
Obviously, this has massive implications for workplace experience. That’s why the HR department is usually the first one to start considering workplace experience strategies.
IT Operations and Security teams also have to be deeply involved in the process, especially when implementing flexible work arrangements.
Your digital tools and services have to be useful and easy to access but also secure, regardless of where employees decide to work from.
Lastly, facility teams are another vital piece of the puzzle, as they take care of everything related to the company’s physical spaces.
The biggest reason we started this list with the suggestion to talk to your employees is so you can have a baseline.
That way, you can know whether your workplace experience initiatives are moving in the right direction. However, you should also go further and set specific workplace experience goals, KPIs, and metrics.
For example, the Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) is a common way to evaluate the employee experience. eNPS measures how likely employees are to recommend your company as a good place to work.
It’s easy to calculate since employees only have to answer one question — “On a scale of 0–10, how likely are you to recommend our company as a place to work? It’s also a decent gauge of workplace experience — if the eNPS is increasing, you’re likely doing something right regarding the employee experience.
Another crucial factor to measure is workplace utilization. For that, OfficeRnD Hybrid’s Advanced Workspace Analytics allows you to track space usage and understand how teams are using your office.
This data becomes the foundation for future iterations. For example, you might see that some areas of the office are barely used, while others are constantly crowded.
In these cases, re-designing the underutilized spaces to fit specific work needs (which you can uncover by talking to employees) can be a good strategy.
You should now know the answer to the question, “What is workplace experience?”
As you can see, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to workplace experience. And while there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, workplace technology should be at the core of creating and consistently delivering an exceptional experience.
On that note, if you’re looking for a workplace experience platform to help you bring people together in collaborative, flexible spaces, check out OfficeRnD Hybrid.
Workplace experience refers to the overall perception and feeling employees have about their work environment, encompassing physical spaces, technology, culture, and interactions. It’s shaped by factors like office design, tools provided, company culture, and management practices. A positive workplace experience boosts engagement, productivity, and retention.
A workplace experience team is a dedicated group within an organization focused on enhancing the overall employee experience in the work environment. This team collaborates on initiatives related to office design, technology integration, culture-building, and employee well-being. Their goal is to create a positive, engaging, and productive atmosphere that aligns with the company’s values and objectives.
The function of workplace experience is to optimize the work environment to foster employee well-being, engagement, and productivity. It encompasses the design of physical spaces, the integration of technology, the promotion of a positive company culture, and the facilitation of seamless interactions.
A great workplace experience is characterized by a harmonious blend of a supportive culture, ergonomic and inspiring physical spaces, access to the right tools and technology, and opportunities for growth and collaboration. It prioritizes employee well-being, fosters open communication, and values feedback.
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