When a candidate decides whether to accept a job offer, you may expect them to ask the following questions:
‘Is the offered salary higher than my current salary?’
‘Is the location more convenient than the location I currently work in?’
‘Do I have more responsibilities in the new role than I do in my current role?’
‘Are there more opportunities for training and promotion in the new role than in my current role?’
However, research has shown that criteria which is often overlooked or neglected initially can have more of an impact on future job satisfaction than the criteria stated above. For example, a recent study by Robert Half (2012) found that working environment is the most crucial factor in employee satisfaction. This is therefore something which should not be overlooked; working environment comprises so many vital elements of working life, it should be the basis of one of the first questions candidates ask themselves when deliberating over a job offer.
What contributes to a good working environment?
Employees spend over 2000 hours a year at work, therefore it is important the workplace is a comfortable and inviting place to be. There are many advantages employers will gain from facilitating environmental improvements. Taking into consideration factors such as office layout, lighting, room temperature, noise, office equipment, facilities, amongst other criteria, can have a huge effect on employee morale and in turn, employee productivity. Research has shown pleasant work spaces can help employees feel more creative, engaged and connected to the company they work for, which encourages hard work and increases motivation.
Encouraging communication in the workplace helps to create a relaxed and sociable atmosphere, whilst also creating a sense of social belonging for employees. It is more than just talking; it’s about connecting with people and increasing employee engagement. Employees are more engaged in their work and can better align with company objectives and goals when a culture of good communication is established in a team or workplace. Additionally, a workplace which communicates effectively establishes a safe place for people to think creatively which encourages employees to openly express their thoughts and ideas.
When employees feel like they’re working together as part of a team, they’re more likely to want to help each other succeed. This behaviour encourages colleagues to support one another, offer advice and share their knowledge in order to help everyone perform to the best of their ability. This type of co-operative atmosphere ensures that everyone’s talents can be used to their full potential, whilst also accommodating individual weaknesses. Team spirit can inspire and encourage employees to work hard through developing a positive working attitude; an attitude which is contagious.
Flexibility is a vital trait that businesses need to demonstrate in order to survive in today’s ever-changing world. Keeping up-to-date with the latest trends and recent advances in technology will ensure employees are working to the best of their ability and thus maximising productivity. Flexibility towards working routines can also have a significant impact on productivity. Giving employees the opportunity to be flexible with their hours and their place of work helps to improve their work/life balance. Employees will respect this flexibility and increased level of trust and this is likely to show in their work.
A negative working environment can be extremely costly. A global report by Leesman investigated how a poorly planned workplace can have a negative impact on employees and inhibit their ability to perform. Shockingly, they found 43% of employees globally do not agree that their workplace enables them to work productively; this jumps up to 46% for UK employees.
These findings suggest that there is still a vast number of employers that need to be doing more if they’re going to leverage the workplace as a place of competitive advantage and a booster of organisational performance. However, making just a few small changes to the working environment can make a huge difference. Ultimately, creating or reinventing an office to be employee-centric and a good working environment, will lead to more success in the long term; it may come at a short-term expense, but it is an investment that will no doubt prove to be worth it.