While the concept of enhancing employee engagement is not new, the strategies adopted by companies over the years have been constantly evolving. A new report released by JLL highlights momentum picking up in the latest such approach – one that uses the physical design of a workplace to express company culture and connect employees to brand values.


“Companies have spent a significant amount of time refining strategies to increase engagement through the efficiency of their workplace and effectiveness of their employees,” said Craig Hean, Managing Director, JLL South Africa. “But many are realising they may have been undervaluing the only resource with unlimited potential – their workforce. In response, we’re seeing a trend toward looking at culture and creating workplaces with a personality and expression to match.”

The benefits of an engaged workforce and the problems associated with disengagement are well-documented. Recent studies peg the cost of disengagement to the U.S. at $450-500 billion a year. Conversely, research shows organisations with engaged employees experience almost 150 percent higher earnings per share compared to their competition. Companies that have taken the next step, however, are reaping even more benefits. Those who actively developed their culture returned more than 500 percent higher revenue and 750 percent higher income.

JLL’s report, Fully Engaged, introduces the concept of “workplace expression” as being the final piece of the “3 E’s” of employee engagement. With significant gains made over the last two decades in the first two “E’s” – efficiency and effectiveness – adding the final piece of expression to the mix can create a dynamic and compelling environment that reconnects employees to their purpose, directs renewed energy and engagement while driving innovation and productivity to new levels. Workplace expression is a tool that improves the engagement and motivation of employees by harnessing and communicating the cultural and brand values of a company through the physical design of its workplace.

Effective workplace expression plugs into culture by sending a message to employees about their value to the organisation and what the company stands for. Every organisation has a unique culture that needs to be evaluated to find the best match, but basic principles to consider when creating a powerful workplace expression include:

A deliberate office design that allows cultural values to inform, direct and generate employee engagement
A combination of office design, objects and systems to show the company appreciates its people and the contribution they make
An environment that empowers employees by giving them choice in their daily work habits
An atmosphere that boosts internal buy-in and direction
Employees are typically attuned to the messages their work environment is sending. Creating a responsive environment enables employees to produce meaningful work. It also instils a sense of pride and can revitalise organisational performance.

“Would you bring your best friend to your office?” asks Hean. “The answer to that question is very telling. Culture is intangible and hard to actively measure, yet it’s easy to sense when you walk into an office. Workplace expression shifts the office from being a comfortable background to an active cultural lever used to shape employee perceptions, motivations and behaviours. Allowing it to become a location where a company’s vision and mission manifest itself can easily transform a ‘place to work’ into a ‘best place to work’.”

Original article on leadingarchitecture.co.za

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