The Ugly Truth About Employee Engagement and How to Fix It

With a recent study conducted by Steelcase revealing that 70 percent of employees are disengaged, workplaces need to evolve as their employees evolve, and this means straying away from some traditional workplace designs.

CI Staff

It’s no secret that the way people work is changing rapidly, and workplaces are going to need to evolve at the same pace as the people who occupy them.

The transition is certainly underway, with firms such as Red Thread creating future-ready workplaces to support more collaborative and engaging working environments. But the majority of workplaces are lagging behind.

Taking a deeper look at current employee engagement, Steelcase recently conducted a survey that polled 12,480 participants in 17 countries to measure relevant dimensions of employee engagement and workplace satisfaction.

The results? The study found that only 3 out of 10 employees are engaged in the workplace.

But that’s not all. Check out the following results from the Steelcase Global Report on Engagement and the Global Workplace:

Workplace Engagement in the U.S.:

  • 30 percent of U.S. employees are engaged (highest among the countries polled)
  • 52 percent are disengaged
  • 18 percent are actively disengaged, meaning that they are bad mouthing the company both at and outside of the workplace

Working in the Office vs. Working at Home

  • 8 out of 10 employees say the workplace can be an attraction tool
  • 3 out of 10 employees say it is an attraction tool
  • 8 out of 10 employees would rather work from home
  • 6 out of 10 cubicles are empty each day
  • On average, employees are interrupted every 3 minutes in the workplace, and it takes us 23 minutes to get fully engaged in what we were doing before the interruption

Engagement and Work Experience

  • 88 percent of highly engaged employees report they can choose where they work in the office depending on the task at hand
  • 88 percent of highly engaged employees report that they can concentrate easily
  • 94 percent of highly engaged employees report that they can work in teams without being disrupted
  • 86 percent of disengaged employees are unable to choose to work in alternative settings
  • 87 percent of disengaged employees report that they are frequently interrupted when working in teams

The Takeaway: Engaged employees have more control over their experiences at work.

When exploring the differences between engaged and disengaged workers, a consistent theme emerged across diverse data: The more employees feel a sense of control over where and how they work, the more engaged and satisfied they are with their workplace.

Access to Mobile Technology

  • 86 percent of global workers are provided landline phones
  • 80 percent of global workers have desktop computers
  • 39 percent of global workers have employer-provided laptops and mobile phones
  • 14 percent of global workers have tablets
  • 54 percent of global workers have the option to use their personal computer at work

The Takeaway: Fixed technology exceeds mobile 2:1.

Access to mobile technology contributed to the employee engagement and satisfaction mix. The most highly engaged workers are more likely to have laptops, mobile phones and tablets than those that are deskbound by landline phones and desktop computers. Access to mobile technology also provides employees more choice and control over their work experience and gives them the freedom to choose where to work within the office based on the task they are doing.

Traditional vs. Open Office Spaces

  • 31 percent of workplaces are configured with entireles private offices
  • 23 percent of workplaces are configured with completely open office spaces
  • 46 percent of workplaces are configured with both open and enclosed private spaces

The Takeaway: Traditional workstyles persist.

These configurations vary greatly by country. The United Kingdom sees 49 percent working in open-office plan workstations and 14 percent in individual office while Germany sees 54 percent in individual offices while 19 percent are in open plan.

60 percent of global employees are assigned to either an individual or shared private office. About one third of employees have assigned workspaces in open environments, and only 8 percent are nomadic workers. Individual private offices continue to be a function of hierarchy.

The Fix: How to Create a Resilient Workplace

According to Steelcase, workplaces will need to appeal not to employee well-being, but to human well-being, in order for employees to be more engaged and overall happier at work.

The resilient workplace will design for the following:

Design for Physical, Cognitive and Emotional Wellbeing

Physical: Be healthier – Support movement throughout the day and encourage healthy postures that help people stay comfortable and energized.
Cognitive: Think Better – Support the need for focus and rejuvenation through spaces where individuals and teams can think clearly, concentrate easily, solve problems and generate new ideas.
Emotional: Feel Better – Support the social nature of work by creating spaces that nurture a sense of belonging and foster connections between people and the organization.

Create and Ecosystem of Spaces

Posture: Movement + Variety – The workplace should encourage regular movement throughout the day and offer options for people to work in sitting, standing or lounge postures.
Presence: Digital + Analog + Physical + Virtual – Spaces should enable quality interactions with teams that are both local and distributed across continents and time zones, supporting both digital and analog communication.
Privacy: Focus + Rejuvenation – The work environment should provide places that offer varying ways to achieve privacy, in both open and enclosed spaces. Privacy is important to all workers and a vital component of both focus and rejuvenation, which are essential to employee engagement.

To read the full report and hear directly from Steelcase regarding these results,  visit CI‘s sister site, CorporateTechDecisions.com.