Is an Improved Office Experience the Answer to the UK’s Productivity Slump?

The UK’s most recent productivity slump is intricately tied to the employee experience — and heads of property/real estate should take note.

Developing a positive work environment has been fundamental to business success since the dawn of modern work, and even more so in today’s highly competitive labour market. 84 percent of UK employees state that their workplace experience is directly linked to their productivity — yet only half of these workers consider their organisations to be effective at creating a positive work environment. These are just some of the findings tracked across Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends 2019 survey, a multi-year study of HR, talent, and related technology topics. Employers are already facing huge headwinds of disruption — the lack of engagement due to outmoded ideas of employee experience for one, paired with breakneck technology advancement, demographic changes, and shifting political dynamics. Human capital should and must be a firm’s biggest asset in today’s hyper-competitive landscape.

Here are the takeaways decision makers need to know.

Employee Experience is Not Customer Experience

Employee engagement, from an experience perspective, was originally modelled parallel to the customer experience. This has been an ongoing point of friction on three key fronts:

  1. There are fundamental differences between employees and customers: employees have enduring, tangible relationships with employers, often rooted at the physical office space where they report to work each day, whereas consumers can opt in and out at any time with no bounds to physical space or time.

  2. The social nature of employment — with company culture, workplace environment, and hierarchies of relationships at the root, the employee experience overlooks the focus of the individual for the collective.

  3. The employee experience has remained stubbornly transactional — a traditional agreement that has traded 9-5 work for a paycheck, standard corporate office, or cubicle and associated benefits. The old mode of employee experience, from office space and beyond, has not keep pace with the times. Greater purpose, meaning and flexibility are coming together to define an elevated, more human experience of work as firms are challenged to reshape themselves into human-focused, social enterprises.

The Workplace Is Becoming Human-Focused

Despite the ubiquity of digital transformation as a major corporate driver of change, Deloitte reports that 84 percent of employers say they need to rethink their workforce experience to improve productivity. Clearly, the employee experience model is broken as it stands. Only 59 percent of employees think that their organisations are effective or very effective at creating a positive work environment. Even fewer, 49 percent, believe that their colleagues on the whole are satisfied with the core aspects of their work. There’s a real opportunity for employers to refresh and expand the concept of “employee experience” to address the “human experience” at work.

Firms Need to Take a Multi-Functional Approach

Deloitte’s findings suggest a bottom-up and personal approach to employee experience that comes from and is focused on the individual. This means taking an end-to-end approach to the employee experience beyond traditional HR responsibilities (hiring, onboarding, job design, rewards, and development) to also encompass the physical and digital office space, people technology, shared services, mobility and travel. A multi-functional approach allows an organisation to develop a consistent and holistic experience for its employees. Although the employee experience journey may begin with traditional concepts of the tangible workplace and reward systems, in time, it must encompass increasingly human elements to create and retain meaning for individual employees.

Conclusion

These are our most salient takeaways from a very comprehensive study on human capital trends. As firms increasingly shift towards social enterprises, the employee experience is being reshaped to be more human-focused and meaningful. All told, workers’ demands have changed and organisations must alter their employee experiences to stay competitive in attracting top talent. A new workplace strategy is taking root, one that is cross-functional and deeply interconnected with office productivity.