In the era of hybrid working, it has become clear that employee needs, rather than organizational needs, are the driving forces behind successful workplaces. In many organizations, hybrid working is still considered to be merely a perk, and companies around the globe are struggling to integrate it as a long-term, future-proof solution that benefits the well-being of their employees.
By understanding what employees need and how to meet those needs, organizations can provide a range of benefits that will satisfy existing workers and help attract and retain talented recruits.
This article is the first in a series of three that will focus on the war for talent and how the Mapiq pyramid of well-being can be applied to create a successful workplace.
The Mapiq pyramid of workplace well-being
Companies have a strong motivation to attract and retain top performers while achieving and maintaining an ideal work environment for current employees. With this in mind, we created the Mapiq pyramid of workplace well-being. This framework transforms personal well-being concepts into organizational principles.
The relationship between employee and employer is symbiotic, so long as you have the right plans in place to support it. Employers see the benefits of productive employees when they’re happy with their work environment. People appreciate (and tend to stick around) when there’s harmony between their work environment and their needs. 60% of workers who say they feel cared for, intend to stay with their companies for three or more years, compared to only 7% of those who say they don't feel cared for.
To address this issue, we identified the three employee needs that are key to any thriving workplace:
- Concrete needs
- Belonging needs
- Actualization needs
You can think of these needs as the pillars of an attractive office and company culture. When you satisfy these core needs you can more easily attract talented recruits and retain high-performing members of your workforce. Now, let’s take a closer look at the first element of concern in the ideal workplace: concrete needs.
What are concrete needs?
Concrete needs include the physical and safety needs of employees. These are the most basic needs to meet for your employees to feel protected and healthy in a workspace. They include physiological considerations that have an impact on how employees feel. This includes air, light, temperature, sound, nutrition, movement, and safety. It might seem that these concrete needs are very simple and that nearly all organizations should already be meeting them. However, the data shows that this unfortunately isn’t the case.
A study from IBM reveals that only 46% of employees said their company supports their physical and emotional health. Meanwhile, 80% of executives believe their company is supportive of their employees' health. The disconnect can prevent both employees and organizations as a whole from reaching their full potential.
This is something that you can’t afford to ignore. When you’re meeting employees’ concrete needs, you are laying the groundwork for a healthy, happy, and attractive workplace. This ensures that all employees have the basic necessities they need to perform their roles and feel safe in the office.
So, how do you address these needs? Prioritizing physical health is critical. This requires you to design your office in a health-centric manner that promotes well-being and efficiency. You can also utilize technology to ensure a sense of safety throughout the work environment.
The importance of physical health
To meet the most basic concrete needs in your workplace, you need to ensure that your employees are physically healthy. Without guaranteeing their health, your people won’t be able to work efficiently, and they may suffer mental or physical illness.
One way to make sure your employees remain physically healthy is to think about the type of food and catering options you have in your office. Plus, implementing nutrition programs can be an opportunity for team members to come together. They can learn about how to eat and cook in a way that supports their health.
Beyond that, many potential employees consider the food options an organization offers. So, be sure to think about the health of your food and snack choices to ensure there are options for people with dietary restrictions.
The benefits aren’t just for employees, either. The way that people eat directly impacts the way they work. So, if you want your employees to be their best when they come into the office, be sure that there are healthy choices on the table.
You also need to consider another major aspect of physical health: movement. One study found that not exercising is worse for your health than smoking. Data also supports the claim that exercising more leads to a longer and healthier life.
Offering options for physical fitness like an on-site gym, fitness breaks, or free memberships to a nearby health club can all promote this aspect of a good lifestyle for your people. Physical exercise even plays a beneficial role in preventing chronic diseases, and research shows the link between exercise and the reduction of anxiety and depression.
Prioritizing your employees' physical needs shows that you care about the fundamentals of their well-being. Being a health-conscious organization is also attractive to recruits, and it can help you attract top talent. Plus, scientific evidence shows that it is possible to influence work-related outcomes, especially absenteeism, through health promotion efforts.
Designing with well-being in mind
Designing your office so that it offers employees a range of comfortable ways to work is key in meeting concrete needs. There are a few different best practices to keep in mind if your goal is to create a space where all employees feel supported and productive.
Your office should have places for interaction and collaboration, as well as places for people to work independently if they need a quiet moment to themselves. By creating a floor plan that offers multiple ways of working, employees can choose to work in an area that suits them best and empowers them to maximize their efficiency.
This becomes even more important as employees adjust to coming back into the office after spending time working in their own home office environment. People will have to readjust to working around others and sharing a space, but the right layout can make that process easier.
While you do need collaborative space, private work areas are also becoming an expectation. Two-thirds of U.S. workers worked in some form of open office environment pre-pandemic—but only half would consider those open environments ideal as they look to the future of work and returning to the office.
Elements in your space
Once you have the layout that will work best for your people, you can think about other key elements in your building, such as lighting. Bringing in daylight can significantly impact the way your workforce feels throughout the day. Workers in environments that incorporate daylight and outside views report a 15% higher level of well-being.
If you have limitations that prevent your office space from getting a lot of natural light, be sure to encourage outdoor breaks when weather permits. If people feel comfortable stepping away from their desks, they can take the time to enjoy the benefits of the environment on a regular basis.
Lastly, think about the materials you use in your office. The days of the stuffy and boring cubicles are ones that most people want to leave in the past. Now, the focus is on creating an inviting space, and a few small items can go a long way to making that a reality. For example, incorporating plants and natural materials has been shown to increase energy, concentration, well-being, and productivity.
These changes can all add up to move you towards creating the most attractive work environment that you can. Designing your office to benefit well-being helps keep your existing employees happy and healthy, and it promotes a great first impression to recruits experiencing your workspace for the first time.
The role of technology in a safe and comfortable workplace
You can also meet concrete needs by leveraging technology that will allow employees to feel content in the office. Making the right choices when it comes to implementing technology can help you gain insight into what’s happening in your space. It will also empower your people to complete their work in the most efficient way possible.
Workplace management tools allow organizations to manage capacity in the event of health concerns or government restrictions. This can help you maintain social distancing measures so that workers never feel unsafe when working or meeting in person.
You can even monitor spaces so you can better understand how the workplace is used. That data can inform consequential changes so that the concrete needs of employees are always met. As your people and the way they work change, your space can too.
According to one recent survey, 68% of people say hybrid is their preferred work environment. But most workers also want flexibility in not just where they work, but when they work. Almost all (95%) of respondents want more flexibility in their schedules. This makes capacity planning even more important if you’re allowing your people to move away from a traditional nine-to-five.
Doing your best to set up a comfortable workplace is a great first step, but technology can take this concept to the next level. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends a temperature between 68 and 76°F (20 and 24°C) and a humidity level of 20–60%, but even if you plan for your office to be in that range, things are likely to shift due to weather or if your office layout evolves.
You can use smart devices and apps to control the lighting and temperature in the office so that you can ensure the best air quality. This way, no matter how the environment impacts the building, employees can focus and do their best work if they aren’t dealing with extreme changes.
While many people enjoy working from home, they do have concerns about their security and privacy. Internet security research shows that 59% of employees felt more cyber secure working in-office compared to at home. When you take a proactive approach to managing devices and technology, you can uphold digital safety for each individual and your organization as a whole.
Necessary tools and platforms
Technology itself has become a basic need in the workplace, but unfortunately, employees don’t always have access to the tools and services they need. In fact, 90% of C-suite executives believe their company pays attention to people’s needs when introducing new technology, but only 53% of employees agree with that.
Employees need to know they will always have access to the technology they need. This makes it essential for leaders to first have an understanding of what exactly their people do on a daily basis. Then, they have to work to identify any gaps that current technology could fill, and listen to employees when they make suggestions about what would help them most.
By showing the technology you use and how it benefits your employees, you present your level of commitment to well-being. As new recruits look for organizations that will value them and provide an environment that will allow them to be successful, your company is sure to stand out.
Taking the pyramid from concept to action
The Mapiq pyramid does more than reveal the workings behind how organizations are creating successful office environments. It also shows you how you can recreate it. Start with concrete needs, the first component of employee well-being, to future-proof your office.
To boost recruitment and win the war on talent, you should prioritize and meet these concrete needs. By encouraging physical health, considering the design of your environment, and leveraging technology, you can create a company culture that employees will want to be a part of for years to come.
Keep coming back to our blog for more information on applying the Mapiq pyramid, as well as meeting belonging needs and actualization needs.