The findings of Capital One’s 2019 Work Environment Survey underline the significant impact workplace design and employee experience have on employees’ satisfaction, creativity, and productivity at work. While the survey revealed many interesting facts about employee expectations around their work environment, four stand out as being particularly important to an employer’s ability to retain valued talent.
Flexible scheduling, including remote work and non-traditional hours
This is one of the top benefits today’s workers expect from employers, and the findings of the Work Environment Survey reinforce just how big a role it plays in retaining top talent. “We asked respondents which perks would be most likely to make them stay with a company if they were considering whether to stay or leave, and 81 percent ranked a flexible schedule in their top two reasons to stay,” says Stefanie Spurlin, vice president of workplace solutions at Capital One.
That number is up 8 percent from the 2018 survey, underlining how critical it’s becoming that employers offer this element of flexibility whenever possible. “Employees see flexible schedules as a key factor in their ability to achieve better work-life harmony, and the best way to implement this benefit is from the top down within a company,” says Meghan Welch, senior vice president, head of enterprise HR, and chief diversity and inclusion officer at Capital One. On a tactical level, technology solutions can be important enablers for flexible working arrangements.
Natural light & connections to nature
Today’s employees have high expectations when it comes to employers’ efforts to support their well-being. Connections to nature are pivotal for a holistic approach to meeting them. “Natural light continues to be a huge priority for professionals today; it has topped the list of design elements that people most want to see in their workplaces for three years in a row,” Spurlin says. Integration of more natural elements in the workplace is also trending in the design world, and there is growing evidence that it contributes to improved employee performance. Businesses can help employees feel more connected to nature in the workplace by locating desks or common areas near windows.
Spurlin adds that active break opportunities are also important to professionals, helping to reduce fatigue and promote long-term health. For example, Capital One is intentional about designing foot traffic routes throughout its workspaces to promote mobility. It provides height-adjustable workstations, treadmill Walkstations, bike-share programs, and bike and walking trails to encourage employee mobility. “These are all designed thoughtfully and purposefully to allow for both vertical and horizontal connections,” she says.
On-site health and wellness amenities
Nearly all (87 percent) the professionals responding to the latest Work Environment Survey agree it’s important that employers create spaces and programs to support mental health and well-being, and 40 percent list health amenities among the top two perks that would make them stay with a company. “Along with flexible schedules, well-being programs are a critical element of achieving work-life integration and retaining talent,” Spurlin says. Options employers should consider offering include standing or active desks/workstations, different environments that encourage movement throughout the day, and healthier food and beverage options in vending machines, dining facilities or cafeterias, and at team lunches or meetings.
Welch notes that Capital One invests in health amenities for its employees so they can continue to take care of themselves even while at the office. “Whether it’s offering spin classes at an on-site gym, providing healthy food options in our cafeterias, or offering a mental health support program, we want our employees to know we’ve got their backs and want them to succeed in all parts of their lives,” she says.
Flexibility and adaptability of workplace design
Quiet spaces, spaces for creativity, active workspaces such as standing or treadmill desks, communal dining areas-;all these, and more, can be elements of flexibility and adaptability in workplace design. That should be important to employers because it’s important to their employees. In fact, 90 percent of respondents in the Work Environment Survey agreed that they perform better by the critical measures of productivity and creativity in well-designed workplaces. This is a key element in retaining top talent, Spurlin says.
Pointing to the survey finding that nearly three in four respondents agree it’s important for their company’s workplace design to be flexible, Spurlin emphasizes that different people need different things to do their best work. “Companies that remain adaptable and dynamic in their design and create multi-functional spaces and experiences or amenities to keep up with changing preferences will have an edge when it comes to retaining top talent,” she says. “Employers can think through the different needs of their workforce and create design strategies that utilize the space they have in ways that work best for their employees.”