Research shows employers must do more to listen to employee voice, say experts

Two out of five (42 per cent) employees believe their office environment has no positive effect on their happiness, a new survey has found.

The research by workplace and office design consultants Peldon Rose also discovered that just a third (36 per cent) of the 600-plus employees it surveyed enjoyed coming into work every day.

Although the majority (59 per cent) of respondents said they were most productive in an office environment, a third (33 per cent) wished their manager trusted them more with how and when they carried out their work. Meanwhile, 30 per cent felt they did their most productive work at home, and 5 per cent believed they were most productive when working in a cafe.

“Workers are clearly stating that their relationships with their colleagues and bosses are what keeps them happiest at work and the office is where they are most productive, but 39 per cent say their company doesn’t foster a sense of comradery and 42 per cent say their office doesn’t have a culture that allows them to work flexibly,” added Jitesh Patel, chief executive of Peldon Rose. “For employers, this should be seen as an opportunity to create a culture that promotes trust and develops autonomous thinkers.”

However, more than half (52 per cent) of those surveyed said they were not involved in the decision-making process for changes to their office and 50 per cent said their employer had not asked them how satisfied they were with their working environment.

Ksenia Zheltoukhova, head of research and thought leadership at the CIPD, said the findings highlighted the need for HR to take employees’ views into account more often. “The concept of employee voice needs to be thought through by HR practitioners,  specifically to understand what is most valuable to people at work, what makes them happy and what makes them more engaged and more productive. They can use the opportunity to engage people in these discussions,” she said.

Zheltoukhova said employers worried that seeking out this level of input would be time consuming could try using social media or internal communication platforms to get a discussion going quickly.

Earlier research by Jason Corsello and Dylan Minor for Cornerstone OnDemand discovered that boosting employees’ productivity could be as simple as revamping office seating plans. The pair found that moving an average worker next to a star performer increased that first worker’s productivity by 10 per cent on average.

Meanwhile, research by Oxford Economics suggested that open-plan office designs were at odds with the working style of many non-managerial staff, with 53 per cent saying the ambient noise in such workplaces reduced both their satisfaction and productivity, and 41 per cent adding that they did not have the necessary tools to cut out the noise and focus on their work.

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