The world of work is changing. But attracting and retaining top talent still depends on some pretty age-old, common-sense ideas: give people a pleasant place to work, the best tools for the job and a realistic amount of time to accomplish what they need to.
It sounds simple enough, but plenty of companies have work to do.
A workplace survey of nearly 2,000 U.S. employees conducted by Staples Business Advantage (the B2B division of the office supplies seller), in conjunction with Jacob Morgan, a futurist and the author of The Future of Work, found motivated employees and lots of opportunities for employers to make themselves more competitive.
Seventy percent of participants reported working more than 40 hours of week, and 46 percent said they work after hours—91 percent said they do at least some of the time. And that's not to get ahead, but to complete work they can't get done during an 8-hour day.
The most productive place to work? Sixty-sixty percent of people said their desks, though only 36 percent said their desk at work is an inspiring place to get work done.
People say they want more attention paid to workplace design. Specifically, they'd like natural light (42 percent), private spaces to work (37 percent), the option of a standing desk (34 percent) and lounge areas (31 percent).
A dearth of private spaces also creates stress—like knowing you're going to have to work two more hours after dinner because four people dropped by to talk about the weekend. Put into numbers: 40 percent of people named email as a productivity-hurting distraction, but 49 percent said the same about people coming to their desk to talk, while 56 percent blamed loud co-workers.
"An office outfitted with thoughtful workplace solutions boosts employee productivity and happiness and directly impacts the bottom line," said Neil Ringel, executive vice president of Staples Business Advantage, in a July 7 statement.
The report also found employees crave greater efficiency—and the ability to have a greater impact.
Thirty percent said they're inspired in environments that make it easy to collaborate with others, but too many meetings is problem—an estimated 25 percent of meetings are reportedly unproductive.
Further, 75 percent of employees said their employers don't give them access to the latest technologies they believe can help them work more efficiently.
Burnout Leads to Job Hunts
Workloads are taking a toll, as nearly 50 percent of responders say feeling overworked has motivated them to look for another job.
There are ways, though, to help keep workers healthy, inspired and productive, says the survey.
More than half of workers (62 percent) said that when looking for a new job, a wellness program is a big selling point, though 58 percent said their current workplace doesn't offer one.
Don't have an on-site gym? Sixty-five percent of people want their company to offer fresh foods and healthy snacks—and 44 percent said fresh foods were the most important factor in a wellness program.
"This study shows that there is a tremendous opportunity for organizations to focus on and design employee experiences where employees truly want to show up," said Morgan.
It's important to understand that wellness programs, modern technologies and well-designed environments are as much a part of a person's work experience as his or her work objectives, Morgan and the survey confirmed.
He added, "This is crucial to be able to attract and retain top talent."