Raising the bar on workplace experience

Australia /

In Australia, we’re spoilt for choice in terms of work-life balance. We have great access to water, parklands and beaches which creates a different transition from work life to home life than many of our regional and global neighbors. Yet despite this, our latest report, Workplace – Powered by Human Experience, has found our engagement levels are lagging behind our global counterparts.

So how can Australian companies better gear up their workplaces to engage and motivate their workers, and create a truly human experience?

Give the workplace purpose

Enhance the workplace experience and you can engage your staff with the organization’s values and work ethos. Fail to do so, however, and you risk losing talent.

Rajiv Nagrath, JLL’s Executive Director and Chair, Corporate Solutions Australia, says “The key challenge is to create environments that make for happy employees; that tug at the core beliefs of the company and its workforce.

“Without a connection between workplace experience and the organization’s values, there is a risk of employees viewing the organization as irrelevant.” Nagrath says, “Employers can use the physical spaces to help create a sense of feeling about the brand and identity to employees.”

Happiness plays a major role too, especially for your youngest employees. Millennials struggle to fit in a box—they will seek out opportunities and employers to innovate and create, to be included in a bigger purpose.

Give people a sense of empowerment and autonomy

Giving people a sense of control in their working environment can be a great driver of performance. And, for Australian workers, trust, in particular, is one of the best tools for improving employee engagement.

“You can only keep staff if they are engaged in the corporate experience,” Nagrath says. “It’s about empowerment—access to spaces and technologies that inspire creation so they are empowered to innovate and create, and providing rewards and recognition to allow employees to feel valued.”

Australian workers may enjoy lower workplace densities—37 people sharing a space compared to the global average of 45—but the report found we have less access to innovative facilities and amenities such as hobby spaces, childcare facilities and creative spaces compared to the rest of the world.

Giving employees a choice of alternative work settings that complement their main desk area—such as co-working arrangements, remote working or third spaces—is an easy way to raise trust and transparency in the workplace which will, in turn, boost performance.

Create a nurturing environment

Real estate is no longer just about bricks and mortar, it’s about putting people at the heart and soul of the organization, by creating an environment that allows them to prioritize their personal as well as professional development.

To effectively transform human experience, it can’t be corporate real estate working alone in a silo.

“Environments that allow employees to focus on health and well-being are linked to staff engagement and loyalty,” says Michelle Moore, JLL’s Senior Associate, Workplace Strategy, “Embedding health and well-being in your workplace is something all businesses should have at the top of their agenda.”

“There is a strong focus on the employee here in Australia, in terms of workplace safety,” Nagrath adds. “I think we do well in terms of the basic care of the employees, but we need to build that lived experience in the workplace.”

Whether it be sustainable design or employee events, yoga classes or pets in the workplace, unlimited annual leave, personal trainers or a fully stocked kitchen, the range of initiatives available that can help nurture the workplace experience are endless. But what works for some companies won’t work for everyone so before implementing initiatives, make sure it’s part of a considered process based on employee consultation and engagement.

Change your leadership perspective

Easier said than done right? We live in an experience based society, one where the pace of change is rapid, meaning it’s easy to get caught up in the short-term and focus on immediate economic uplift. But some things, such as building culture, need a long-term view.

“The workplace needs to reflect values. That shift in culture takes a long time—years even to truly embed,” says Nagrath. However, our diagnostic tool, found in Workplace – Powered by Human Experience, can help companies to speed change in their own workplaces.

“The tool allows them to recognize where the organization is in the change process, and how it might be accelerated,” Nagrath says. “Once you know where you are, you can build the facilities and the programs.”

So who is responsible for creating an engaging human experience?

To effectively transform human experience, it can’t be corporate real estate working alone in a silo. You need widespread organizational commitment. Nagrath argues that the “trifecta of IT, HR and real estate” are required, and Moore agrees.

“Businesses can approach the problem from the perspective of property, people and culture, or brand and marketing,” she says, “but to make it work, you need to get all levers on board. Not just people and culture and IT teams—brand, marketing and digital teams also need to be involved.”

Interested to find out more about Future of Work? Learn more about our outlook on the changing world of work here.

Want to know more? Download the report here.