Attracting and Retaining Employees with an Optimal Office Space
For the latest generation of office workers, staying at a company for more than a couple of years can seem like an antiquated thing to do. Company loyalty was practically a given some twenty or thirty years ago. Today’s young workers on the other hand have no qualms jumping from office to office in chase of better career opportunities, salaries, and perks.
So how do you go about attracting and retaining employees in this new day and age? While you’ll probably be hard-pressed to retain anybody for several decades as was once the norm, with the right tricks up your sleeve, you’ll find it easier to hire employees who are more than happy to stay on for longer than a couple weeks. In fact, if you play your cards right, you may even find yourself being inundated with CVs and cover letters. It’s all about cultivating the right atmosphere.
All About that Space
If you’re serious about recruiting and retaining the best and the brightest, you have to understand that today’s office workers are serious about their comfort. Call them entitled, but it won’t do you any good. The reality is, most of spend a significant portion of our waking hours in the office, so why in the world would we want it to be a place of misery?
You’ll notice that all the big companies that the kids are hankering after these days are offering them some very similar things – and that’s a positive office environment. This includes everything from purchasing some pretty unique office furniture like sleep pods, to making sure that the office is conveniently located by all the best amenities.
While it may seem like a wise plan to relocate the office from that costly downtown rental to the sprawling suburban business complex, you’ll find that employees will be harder to come by if you do so. Access to public transportation, coffee shops, restaurants, sports and cultural facilities are important to employees these days. Holding informal meetings in that new bakery is a lot more energizing than being shut up in a windowless room for an hour. The social aspect of the office is important for encouraging networking, creativity and enthusiasm for work.
Companies are getting wise to this, and have started to take a longer view on investing in office space. While it may seem costly to pay a higher rent for a central office, the miserable cycle of hiring, training and losing employees will actually cost your business more in the long run. Plus, losing employees on a constant basis is terrible for morale. You need to leverage your office space to garner attention, and to inspire and motivate your employees.
In order to best leverage your office environment to attract employees, you need to make sure it’s something actually worth bragging about. This means making adjustments to the physical space, in addition to the rewards system. Though employee bonuses traditionally include things like extra compensation related to performance and such, there are other ways to reward your employees for their hard work and dedication.
Profit sharing is growing in popularity in some offices as a feasible way of encouraging employees to maintain their energy and dedication to a company’s success. Other perks can include catering lunches a few times a week, organizing social committees and outings as rewards for hitting milestones, and providing silly things like a popsicle freezer or soft-drink cooler.
Offering flexibility is another big bonus – flexibility when it comes to choosing working hours, vacation days, and even simple things like clothing. For instance, many offices offer floating holidays, and others allow their workers to work remotely if they’re not constantly needed in the office. Some offices even allow workers to come in and out whenever they please, so long as they hit their minimum 8 hours of work a day
If you have flexible hours and offer workers the ability to work remotely, you may even be able to cut down on your office space and reduce the number of desks by implementing ‘hot desking’ or other similar systems. Modular office furniture is also great for offices where employees often have to do group work, as you can configure the chairs and desks however you please without much effort. Even an ergonomic office chair would be happily received with open arms by workers suffering from back pain. It’s the little conveniences that go a long way in improving worker satisfaction and productivity on a daily basis.
Selling the Story
While you may be irritated at the thought of redecorating the office, you really shouldn’t think about it as a frivolous expenditure. Companies that commit to their employees general satisfaction do better in the long run, as it encourages employees to stay on – and to spread their excitement to their friends.
This is good news for you, because recruiting through referrals is one of the best ways to hire solid employees. Successful people generally know other skilled people, which is why the referral system is so great. If your employees have a reason to be happy about their office space, they’ll gladly share the news with everybody they know. Just take a look at any social media app – you’ll notice there’s always somebody posting a fun Snap about their office, or an Instagram pic of their company’s catered lunch. This is publicity for your company. It encourages friends to reach out and to ask how they can get in on it.
Of course, it’s good to have a planned approach to referral recruiting, and many successful companies encourage their employees to tell a story. This only works if there’s a story to tell. A happy company story includes information on seemingly small perks like having a foosball table in the lounge area, or an adjustable height workstation to accommodate back pain, but it all adds up to generate excitement.
Other things like having lots of opportunities for training and career development are also critical to a successful story. For instance, Lunch and Learns allow you to provide a fun training opportunity and a Facebook photo-op for your employees (and your office) in one go. Potential workers consistently rank career development opportunities as one of the most important things a company can offer, and if their friends who work at your office can confirm it for them, whether in person or on social media, all the better.
Just make sure that when it does come down to hiring, you’re still doing a proper job at interviewing. Ask the right behaviour-related questions and implement pre-employment assessments instead of simply ‘sticking to your gut’. While referrals will make the hiring process quite a bit smoother, it’s still important to make sure you screen your candidates to get the best person for the job.
Attracting employees and keeping them doesn’t have to be a daunting endeavour. While investing in catered lunches, new office furniture, flexible working hours and the like may seem quite costly and radical, you can implement these things in small steps. Also, don’t forget that smaller investments like these will cost you less in the long run than having a high employee turnover rate. By investing for the long haul and curating a positive working environment, you’ll be doing your employees and the business a favour.
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