If you want to attract and retain talented employees, having an office in the right location, with the features that today’s workers want, is more important than you may think.
The world of work is ever-changing, and employers who don’t adapt risk getting left behind. In an era when the boundaries between work and social life are becoming ever more fluid, reward packages and career progression are far from the only things that make for happy employees, as we discovered when we asked more than 1,000 workers across the UK about the features that make up their ideal office. The results point to a clear link between these ideal features and talent recruitment and retention – and some of them may come as a surprise.
The good news is that the workers we surveyed believe they would be 36% more productive at work if they were working in the ideal office. Moreover, 86% say they’d stay longer with an employer that had the ideal office location and features.
The other side of the coin is that 80% believe that companies that don’t offer their employees a convenient location and attractive features are more likely to lose them. And that’s not an empty threat, as younger workers in particular – the people who will be staffing the country’s offices for the next few decades – are markedly more likely to move jobs to find a working environment that suits them.
That can be costly for employers; consultants Deloitte estimate that, when an employee departs, a company loses two to three times their annual salary in terms of lost intellectual capital, client relationships, productivity and experience, plus the cost of recruiting a new hire.
So what does this mean for employers? How they can they ensure that their office environment and facilities help to keep their current workforce happy – and attract the top talent they need to thrive in the future?
One thing’s for sure: employees are looking for – and expect – more than just smart decor. Our research reveals a wish list that includes a great office location and easily accessible transport links – but also, less predictably, communal meeting areas and social events in and around the office.
It’s no great surprise that the overall location of an office was rated firmly as the most important feature, with 70% of those surveyed saying this was very important – but only 42% claiming to be very satisfied with their current office location. An easy commute was also high up the list, with 62% rating public transport links as very important and 44% wanting car parking facilities.
What really jumped out from the survey results, though, was the diversity in responses from the different generations that make up the working population in 2016.
Millennials (those aged 18-29) and Generation X (30-49) demand the most from their employers and – tellingly – are prepared to move to find what they want. Among Millennials, 53% claim they have previously changed jobs to improve the location and the features on offer, and 39% say they will definitely change jobs in 2016. This is a generation of workers with strong ideas about what they want from an office.
And what exactly is that? As working styles change, open and connected environments, with Wi-Fi and communal meeting areas, are very important to these two groups. Being in a location that has a ‘buzz’ about it is also high on the wish list for 90% of Millennials and 82% of Generation X.
Given that 68% of all respondents agreed that the line between work and social time is becoming increasingly blurred, activities and events at the office – or near it, on a campus for example – are also popular. Three quarters of Millennials said they valued such activities, compared with only 45% of Baby Boomers (those aged 50 or over).
With Millennials predicted to account for 75% of the UK workforce by 2025, employers are already thinking hard about how to bring in the most talented of these workers – and how to keep them. Our survey suggests that planning workplace moves or improvements should be playing a significant part in businesses’ overall recruitment strategies, given the impact of the working environment on recruits’ decision-making.
When planning your next move, it’s worth considering the features listed above alongside the obvious things such as geographical location. Employees’ needs are changing: they are prepared to move to find the right working environment, and providing an office with the features they want could make a significant difference in being able to attract and retain the talent your business needs to succeed.