In today’s business landscape, with near-record low unemployment levels, workers have the upper hand when it comes to their work environment and design, benefits, and perks.

Capital One’s 2019 Work Environment Survey highlights four key considerations for employers looking to meet the increasingly high expectations of today’s top talent:

  • Flexible scheduling
  • Access to natural light and connections to nature
  • On-site health and wellness amenities
  • Flexibility and adaptability of workplace design

While each is important on its own, employers must evaluate the integrated experience when thinking about design, amenities, and solutions in the workplace, says Stefanie Spurlin, vice president of workplace solutions at Capital One. “Having a larger strategy that informs all the decisions a company makes when it comes to employee experience--from designing spaces to choosing which amenities to offer--creates a connective tissue and helps to inform decisions, including where to focus investment and resources.”

We’ve identified four companies that that have embraced this approach and are reaping a host of benefits as a result.

In other words, they get it.

Flexible Scheduling Pays Off for Gatesman

Pittsburgh-based advertising agency Gatesman began offering its 80 employees flexible scheduling about two years ago, primarily to improve retention. It had been losing employees, especially young mothers who needed more flexibility in order to balance work/life demands.

“Flexible schedules are one of the top benefits that today’s workforce expects from employers, and the findings of the Work Environment Survey reinforce just how big a role it plays in retaining top talent,” says Spurlin. She notes that 81 percent of survey respondents ranked it as one of their top two reasons to stay with a company, up 8 percent from last year’s survey.

Gatesman president Shannon Baker says all employees are now offered flexible hours and are eligible for unlimited paid time-off from their date of hire; employees with at least a year of tenure can work from home one day a week.

The strategy is paying off. In an industry with an average turnover rate of 30 percent, Gatesman is down to 19 percent and trending lower. Flexible scheduling is also improving the agency’s recruitment efforts. “We are a small business, so it’s enabled us to compete with larger shops,” Baker says.

Boats Group Boosts Employee Satisfaction with Natural Light

Sam Fulton, CEO of Boats Group, a tech company powering online shopping portals for boats and yachts, was not surprised by the survey’s findings of the importance of natural light and connections to nature. “Employees are seeking much more than just employment these days; they are seeking an experience,” he says. Since moving into its light-filled, custom-designed office space on Miami’s waterfront in 2017, Boats Group has met three key objectives:

  • Bolstered its ability to hire Miami’s top tech talent
  • The daily access to breathtaking views provided team members a powerful reminder of their mission
  • It nurtured a truly inspired and positive company culture

“It’s impossible to ignore the importance of nature and natural elements in the workplace when creating a holistic approach to employee well-being,” Spurlin points out. Nearly half of professionals in the 2019 Work Environment Survey said a physical connection to nature would improve their well-being and productivity.

Boats Group’s results confirm that, Fulton says. In an anonymous employee engagement survey conducted in June of 2019, 86 percent of Boat Group’s employees agreed that company-provided benefits help them achieve work-life balance.

Firewood Marketing Addresses Employees’ Health & Wellness Needs

“Employees are increasingly expecting companies to foster their holistic well-being, including mental health,” Spurlin says, citing the latest Work Environment Survey’s finding that 87 percent of professionals agree it’s important that employers create spaces and programs to support these goals.

After polling its own employees, digital marketing agency Firewood Marketing found the Capital One survey results to be spot-on. In response, says Imma Trillo, vice president, human resources, it offers a menu of benefits designed to meet the needs of team members:

  • Healthy food and beverage options, and a weekly catered lunch that includes vegetarian options and salad bars
  • Fitness challenges focused on promoting holistic health
  • A wellness room with stretching equipment
  • On-site flu shots, biometric screenings, and massages
  • Mental and financial wellness education, through literature, seminars, and webinars

Trillo says Firewood’s business objective is straightforward: “Happy and healthy people are engaged employees, excited about their work and the company.” It’s no coincidence that the agency enjoys an employee-retention rate that’s twice the industry average.

Dyer Brown Architects Creates a Flexible & Adaptable Workplace

Recognizing that it hadn’t been practicing what it preaches, workplace design specialist Dyer Brown Architects decided a radical overhaul was in order for its own office of about 50 designers. Brent Ziegler, the firm’s president and director of design, says its goal was to create a space that would foster a more-connected staff, facilitate better collaboration, and encourage and support team ideation and execution--all while showcasing the firm’s design capabilities.

The completely reimagined workspace now offers employees a variety of individual and group workspaces including:

  • Informal meeting rooms with upholstered chairs
  • Lounge areas with laptop tables
  • Individual pods or “nests” built into walls
  • Areas with high-top tables and barstool seating
  • Sit-to-stand desks at all workstations and lounges
  • Conference rooms now available for general use at any time

“Adaptable workspaces can have a big impact on how employees view their ability to succeed at work, which is another key element in retaining top talent,” Spurlin says. Different people need different things to do their best work, so creating an adaptable, dynamic, and multi-functional office design can give a company an edge in attracting and retaining top talent, she explains.

“We definitely feel the sense of connectedness, collaboration, and community that we aimed for,” Ziegler says, adding that the firm is getting high value from the new spaces. “All of them are regularly utilized, and even junior-level staff feel empowered to make use of all the different areas.”