The workforce is ever-evolving, and learning what motivates employees is vital to acquiring and retaining talent in today’s tight labour market. According to Randstad’s global employer brand research, one of the prime drivers is a pleasant work atmosphere. Globally, employees ranked it fourth among the top five reasons to choose an employer; among European and Latin American workers, it came in second and third place.
In this article, you’ll learn what goes into creating different work environments, from floor plans to social interactions. You’ll also find examples of how organisations are modifying environments to meet the needs of their business model while making conditions more beneficial for their employees.
Randstad's Employer Brand Research can help you learn what motivates employees.Download our 2023 report now.
characteristics of an ideal work environment
We are all unique; therefore, even if we’re performing the exact same job as our co-workers, we may want different things from our work environment. So, the challenge for companies is to make work areas flexible enough to satisfy most people yet remain cost-effective.
Worker comfort has come a long way since the First Industrial Revolution. However, to support the physical and mental health of your employees, you need to prioritise the physical aspects of their working environments. This principle is especially true for businesses operating in labour-intensive industries, such as manufacturing and logistics. Employers wishing to improve work environments should consider the following:
body posture: Whether sitting or standing, employees should have ergonomic furniture that encourages appropriate body posture. Flexible workstations like sit-to-stand desks, risers and adjustable office furniture make it easier for employees to find comfortable positions during the workday.
lighting: At its most basic, lighting should meet worker requirements without excess glare. But taken to the next level, innovative lighting solutions can help improve employee morale and, consequently, productivity. For example, adding more natural light, using aesthetic fixtures and providing individual task lighting creates a more pleasant atmosphere. In addition, switching to LED and other energy-efficient light sources can help offset your organisation’s carbon footprint.
temperature: While you can’t please everyone when it comes to workplace temperature, you should find a level suitable for most employees — extremes, whether freezing or sweltering, can negatively affect work health and interfere with productivity. Countries vary regarding minimum and maximum temperatures, so do some research if you have multiple locations. For example, the Health and Safety Executive Services of the United Kingdom suggest a minimum of 16°C, or 13°C if the work is strenuous. Currently, there is no maximum in the U.K., although recent heat waves may encourage new legislation.
sound management: While the open-floor concept provides opportunities for creative sharing, it can result in a noisy atmosphere. Help your employees find peace with headphones or a dedicated space for quiet work. Acoustic panels, flooring, soft materials and plants can also help with sound absorption. If you’ve had employees complain about sound distractions, consider performing a noise assessment to identify decibel levels in various areas of the building.
colour therapy: Decorative elements and the creative use of colour can significantly affect the workplace atmosphere. Soft blues and greens traditionally promote a calming atmosphere, while bright yellows and reds instil positive energy. However, balance is key; you don’t want employees falling asleep or becoming overstimulated. In addition, specific departments may strive for a different vibe than others.
An agile work environment is one in which you can change layouts to focus on work processes. For example, rooms that can be divided or combined at the touch of a button, rolling furniture and multiple electrical connections make it easy to reshuffle spaces. Regardless of workplace design, you want the area to foster communication, creativity and collaboration.
Creating flexibility in the workplace doesn’t just include adapting the physical space. Workers want to be able to choose where (71%) and when (83%) they work. Furthermore, Randstad’s Workmonitor 2023 survey results show that 45%-50% of adults aged 18 to 34 wouldn’t accept a job offer without this type of flexibility.
Companies with more white-collar employees may find adopting remote work environments and schedule changes easier. However, blue-collar workers equally value these changes, with over 60% stating job flexibility would let them spend more time with family. If your organisation wants to provide these types of perks while making them practical in terms of productivity, you must fully understand what drives employees.
For businesses to thrive, they require collaboration among multiple teams, from production workers to sales staff and everyone in between. Sharing ideas is crucial to stimulate the creative process and keep your business innovative.
As an HR manager, it's your responsibility, along with other company leaders, to encourage collaboration, whether in person or virtually. So, how can you encourage team members to connect with each other? Consider the following tips.
establish an open-door policy to show employees that feedback is welcome
schedule regular brainstorming sessions
teach team leaders/managers how to be more effective at their jobs, delegating rather than micromanaging
offer employees chances to connect with and learn from seasoned veterans in their field through mentorship and coaching
promote company/team events where co-workers can interact with each other in a fun environment — employees who share a good relationship work together better
It’s imperative that employees feel comfortable sharing ideas and working together. Needless to say, the ideal work environment must preclude bullying or harassment, and it's the HR department's responsibility to help combat these behaviours. Ensure you have appropriate HR policies and procedures in place to encourage employees to report these issues.
Employees crave a sense of belonging, and sharing your organisation’s goals and values can give them added purpose. Communication is key here. Do all your workers know where their job fits within the company’s mission? This information can be passed along through managers, company newsletters or ‘town hall’ meetings. In addition, look for ways to create shared experiences across worker classes, including those working remotely.
Employees who feel a passion for what they do have more enjoyment in their work and life. Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace Report found a direct correlation between work engagement and overall well-being. But unfortunately, over half of the world’s workers are missing out on this enjoyment.
Stimulating environments at work can help employees work better and improve other aspects of their life. Randstad’s 2023 survey of workers’ mindsets found that ‘people place a great deal of importance on how they are treated and feel in the workplace.’ Keep that in mind as you consider how your company values its workers.
To build a positive working environment, you must offer your employees opportunities for growth, whether vertically or laterally. According to Randstad’s employer brand research, career progression was the fifth top motivator for employees globally and the second-ranked driver in Latin America. However, the report also found that European companies were lacking in this category overall.
To help support a culture of learning and development, consider providing the following:
- training classes in new technologies, leadership and personal growth
- mentorship opportunities
- career coaching services
- remote classrooms
Randstad's Employer Brand Research can help you learn what motivates employees.Download our 2023 UK report now.
how companies are creating ideal work environments
Like so many worthwhile goals, developing a dynamic work environment requires a journey mindset. It’s an ongoing process where you can celebrate milestones along the way rather than a one-and-done approach.
Below are work environment examples from other companies making this journey — one step at a time.
When it comes to factory work environments, the Toyota Production System has been recognised as one of the most innovative ways to improve efficiency and encourage worker collaboration. One of its concepts that contributes toward a positive working environment is the empowerment of floor workers — Jidoka. Each individual worker can stop the entire production line if they spot a problem. Prompt attention and refining of processes to expedite efficiency help workers feel a necessary part of the entire production process, increasing their sense of belonging. Toyota has been consistently among the top Employers in our Randstad Employer brand research conducted in Argentina.
louis vuitton moët hennessy
LVMH, a multinational organisation specialising in luxury products, is one of the top five employers to work for in France, according to Randstad research. Part of this reason is the company’s branding strategy, which offers employees an attractive salary and the benefits of its sterling reputation.
Potential job candidates can quickly identify positive aspects of the company’s work environment by scanning its talent page, which promotes:
- growth opportunities
- sense of belonging
- environmentally responsible corporate values
According to Randstad brand research, Oracle, a technology company, is one of the top employers in the United Kingdom for a pleasant work atmosphere. The company also ranked third in work/life balance in 2022.
In addition to a full suite of health and financial benefits, Oracle offers some unique perks to its employees, including ways to purchase extra holidays and discounts on car leasing and other purchases. Other well-being options include a cycle-to-work program, yoga classes and gym memberships.
To help empower employees to make a difference in the world, Oracle matches personal charity donations in addition to the company’s annual corporate giving. Finally, all employees receive 40 paid volunteer hours a year so they can give back to the program of their choice
For over 25 years, General Electric has focused on creating an ideal workplace environment for women, thereby increasing their participation. The multinational company, headquartered in the United States, has divisions in aviation, renewable energy and healthcare. According to its 2021 Diversity Annual Report, half of the board leadership positions are held by women, and female employees have increased in every sector from the preceding year.
GE’s success strategies include:
- paying men and women equitably, within a 1% differentiation
- sponsoring employee resource groups to help ensure diverse talent needs are considered on all new policies and procedures
- making training programs available to a diverse group of youngsters to help foster a desire for STEM learning, thereby creating a future talent pool
- equalising recruitment processes to attract underrepresented minorities
- conducting ‘stay interviews’ with current employees to identify challenges and strengths
The above work environment examples are just a sampling of the many ways organisations are redesigning themselves to attract desirable employees. Your work environment should reflect your company’s values and business model. However, whether you have 200 employees or 2,000, it must also support the individual worker and their well-being.