Christine Congdon is the Editor of 360 Magazine & Director of Global Research Communications for Steelcase. Steelcase recently released research that is the first to explore the relationship between employee engagement and the work environment. As part of the launch of the Global Report, Christine visits the Coalesse Blog to discuss the exciting new research.
At Coalesse and Steelcase, we have long done qualitative research on how the work environment can impact people’s behaviors. Through our observations, we believe that great workplaces inspire great work.
To push ourselves further, we decided to embark on a quantitative research quest to test a hypothesis that the workplace could have an impact on employee engagement. Steelcase partnered with global research firm Ipsos to conduct a study in 17 countries with over 12,000 office workers. We asked questions about workers' physical environment, such as the type of space they worked in, the culture of their organization and what their experience is like at work.
We learned that 37% of workers are disengaged, 34% are engaged and 29% are in the middle-ground. The good news is Steelcase’s research confirmed that the workplace can help. The data showed a correlation between worker satisfaction with their workplace and their level of engagement.
In short, people who were happy with their office tended to be more engaged. But the people who hated their office, tended to be more disengaged. Comparing the differences between the highly engaged and highly disengaged workers, we saw a pattern: Employees who have more choice and control over their work experience are more engaged.
For example, highly engaged workers aren’t tied to their desks. They have the ability to choose where to work in the office based on the task at hand. They can control their need for privacy, concentrate easily and work with their teammates without disruptions. Their workplace supports a variety of postures and movement throughout the day.
The workplace should be designed to give employees choices and enable them to have a higher degree of control over their work experience. It can be used as a strategic tool for organizations to help improve engagement levels.
Engagement at work is a complex topic with a lot of variables. And of course, simply redesigning your workplace is not going to solve every engagement issue. But we all know what it’s like to walk into a place where you feel energized and inspired to do your best work. Wouldn’t it be great to have that kind of experience, at least most of the time, at work?
To learn more about the key findings around the workplace and employee engagement, download the Steelcase Global Report here.
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