Opinion

Getting creative with work environments to enhance employer reputation

We are committed to supporting organisations in the Eastern region to recruit the best talent and to do this one of the areas we share ideas on is employer brand and reputation.

A creatively thought out workspace can have a big impact on employer brand. It not only sets the tone for a company culture which will get the best from your employees, it also creates the right environment to attract and retain high calibre employees and to develop a positive workplace culture.

Working with clients across the Eastern region, Lynn Walters, Executive Director at Pure, has seen an increase in organisations getting creative with their workspaces to stand out in a competitive recruitment market. Here’s just some of the inspiring examples she has encountered.

Healthy workplaces

Much of the shift we are seeing in work place culture is about creating healthier environments which support people’s lifestyle and wellbeing. Many organisations are taking significant steps to encourage their staff to be healthy, both physically and mentally, and are reaping the benefits from having a happier, healthier team. There is a huge amount of research that shows sitting at a desk for 10-12 hours per day is not good for the employee or the organisation. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to introduce health focussed elements into the workplace. To support mental health, one of our more experimental clients has created a chill out room which has been kitted out with beanbags, soothing music and blindfolds for their employees to take time out from their desks and relax. They believe this helps people to problem solve and encourages innovation, benefitting both the individual and the organisation.

A home from home

Cambridge businesses need to be really creative with employee retention strategies. One of our tech clients in Cambridge has amazing kitchen facilities with daily Waitrose deliveries. There’s a drinks room full of every kind of beverage you can imagine from tea and coffee through to smoothies. There are even practical services such as dry cleaning and laundry, making it easier for staff to manage daily chores around their work. They know their target employee audience is predominately posting graduate 20-30-year-olds who typically don’t have dependents and they have focussed on creating an environment which appeals to them. The workplace has a homely feel, which helps to support work-life balance, get the best out of people and attract the top candidates in the market.

Scandinavian art of lagom

A recent article by Archant business journalist Bethany Whymark revealed how Norwich-based agency Made has embraced the Swedish workplace concept of lagom – doing ‘just the right amount’. The thinking behind this approach is to create a more appealing work-life balance for employees and to increase productivity at the same time. Made has introduced a lagom-inspired six-hour working day, with a full one-hour lunch. There is a strict structure to the day which focusses on working more efficiently within the shorter amount of time, including allotted periods for checking emails and for meetings. This means the rest of the time is dedicated to solid work. Since the system was introduced, the agency says its employees come into work happier, more motivated and with more energy. Just as importantly employees have said that they feel they are getting more done in the six hours than they ever did in eight.

Agile work spaces

Creating environments where people have time to build relationships with colleagues as a means to being productive at work builds more collaboration and increases productivity. Achieving an environment like this doesn’t necessarily need to be expensive, but it does require a shift in mind-set from more traditional working practices. Flagship Group is an inspiring example of a local organisation which has made it work. With a hot desk policy, staff can’t eat at their desk which means they are technically forced to take a break. The organisation provides lots of agile work spaces, relaxing spots and fun areas. It has an ethos of ‘work is what you do, not where you do it’ and gives employees the freedom to work where and how they feel most productive and inspired.

Giving staff the choice

When Start-Rite Shoes decided to allocate a spare training room to become the new staff room, employees were given the chance to have their say on how they would like to use it. The staff committee was given a budget to kit it out and they could decide how to spend it. Staff now have a space with a pool table, a drinks fridge stocked with soft drinks and beer, and bean bags to relax on.

At Pure

Here at Pure we also aim to create a supportive workplace environment where people work flexibly, and a culture of teamwork is fostered. Our offices are designed to be vibrant, creative spaces and we encourage workplace health with free fruit in the office, cycle to work schemes, subsidised gym membership and mental wellbeing sessions such as mindfulness and stress management. We work hard but in a flexible and fun culture which includes regular company social events, team lunches, evenings out and company-wide incentive trips and gifts. Our colleagues are actively encouraged to give back to their local communities; to the causes which matter to them, and we support them with paid time off to complete charity challenges, fundraising and volunteering.

Evolving ideas

Ideas for getting creative with work environments are evolving all the time. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the new offices for Bidwells in Cambridge and Birketts LLP in Ipswich will enhance their workspace and contribute to their employer reputations. What’s best for one organisation maybe different for another and it doesn’t always come down to having large budgets.  Sometimes the most innovative ideas come from no budget at all. Hopefully this blog sparks off some thinking about what you could do in your organisation.

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