Recently, I wrote about how important it is to approach your office design and strategy from a holistic standpoint—to ask yourself what fits your culture? But why is asking that question so important? Well, ultimately, the way you shape your workplace culture affects your workers, and more than ever, businesses are beginning to realize (slowly, but surely) the impact of the human element on their business.
A few weeks ago, Neil Ringel wrote about how many businesses are neglecting employee engagement despite employees being any business’s biggest asset. Employee engagement sounds good, and it is good, but making decision makers recognize and understand the bottom-line impact of their employees can be a big challenge.
“It’s hard for decision makers to really realize the impact,” says Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics. “Everyone accepts that employees have an impact, intuitively, but we still ignore it. You can see office space and the impact of that physical space going away, but you can’t see the effects of employees losing productivity.”
According to Global Workplace Analytics’ research, if you take a typical employee in the financial services industry and take away 8 minutes of their day due to anything—not feeling well, too hot, too cold, too noisy—you’ve lost the equivalent of their entire occupancy cost. That’s only 8 minutes—imagine a full day, or a full week lost.
That’s huge! But even with big, quantifiable impacts like that, businesses are still ignoring the obvious, that healthy, happy employees are more productive, more loyal, and less costly.
“You see businesses doing one-off efforts like a smoking cessation class, or a stress reduction program or overhauling their cafeteria, but it really needs to be done in a holistic sense,” she says, stressing the importance of working toward workplace wellness with cross-functional buy-in from all groups in the company and building a culture of wellness rather than thinking of it in tactical terms.
So what does that mean? Businesses who are looking to reduce costs and maximize productivity should stop focusing solely on line items like healthcare and real estate costs and start looking at the biggest investment they’ve made and can work to get the most out of: their employees.
Workplace strategy is still relatively young in the world of business, but it’s becoming increasingly more important as decision makers seek to better understand their workforce. It’s important to understand that, even though it might not show up on your balance sheet every month, your employees can be the single biggest impact to your bottom line that your business has: are you providing the tools to make that a positive impact, or are you ignoring the challenges that make it a negative impact?