We've all seen the new workplace fads designed to make us happier.
Wheel in a table tennis table, a bean bag or two, maybe even a slide, and we’re all suddenly meant to be fulfilled, happy staff members.
To be fair, table tennis tables are quite good fun and can be a welcome addition to an office, but we know that happiness and fulfilment at work go far beyond that.
We have this week published our latest report: Workplace powered by Human Experience. Undertaken in consultation with 40 global corporates, this research included a survey of over 7,300 employees from 12 different countries across the world. The report reveals that helping people to feel good at work is more than a box-ticking exercise in trying to achieve work-life balance.
What’s more, companies stand to benefit in measureable ways once they realise that the experience they create for their people in the workplace goes to the heart of those employees’ levels of engagement, sense of empowerment and feelings of fulfilment at work.
Fun and games
Our report found that, globally, nearly 70 per cent of employees believe that the workplace environment should foster happiness. At the same time, only 12 per cent thought that a workplace should facilitate games. What this indicates is that perhaps there is a disconnect between what employees want from their workplaces, and what employers think they want.
Employees want their workplaces to provide them a good, if not great, level of comfort and make them happy and content about their work, but they clearly don’t think games are the best way to do this.
A custodian of wellbeing
Nearly nine out of 10 respondents were enthusiastic about having a chief happiness officer at work; someone to act as the custodian of their wellbeing. The UK’s workforce is more or less aligned with this global average – 85 per cent of you think a having a CHO would be a good idea.
The importance of happiness in the workplace is one that has taken root recently in some of the world’s biggest corporations. Google already has a chief happiness officer, and Virgin, with its staff consultations on workspaces, is a pioneer in putting people at the centre of office design. It seems clear that many other businesses are getting ready to follow suit.
Worktime meets playtime
So, why the seemingly sudden focus on the workplace happiness, after decades in which it was a secondary issue? Managers are increasingly aware that they get the best from people who are inspired by their work environment.
Happy, fulfilled employees are productive and engaged employees. At the same time, a new generation of employees are more demanding – searching for organisations whose ethos they believe in, and work environments in which they feel at home.
How do they do that? Our survey came up with some interesting answers. Workers are turning away from the traditional workplace. A significant proportion of them want to escape their desks (37 per cent), find places to recharge their energy (40 per cent), and drop into spaces designed to aid concentration (47 per cent).
Find your happy place
Empowered workers are often involved in designing their own physical surroundings and have access to a range of environments. Fulfilled workers know that their needs are catered for through the design of their workplace.
Most people who have been in the workplace for a couple of decades or more will have experience of the traditional environment – rigid structures, which employees had to slot themselves into. This approach is rightly being overhauled, making our offices more human, but there is still a long way to go.
Becoming more human means becoming more complex, and complexity is part of the survival blueprint for the future.