What types of physical amenities boost employee engagement the most?

by Brianna Crandall — January 17, 2020 — New research reveals that to improve employee engagement and retention, organizations need to go beyond providing an attractive workplace. In order to fully optimize the investment in real estate, facilities managers (FMs) should proactively consider what will improve worker satisfaction and engagement.

According to the new report from global real estate advisor CBRE, employees value an emotional connection to their organization, and great workplace environments and the experiences they provide are a key instrument in enabling and supporting this connection.

The analysis found that employees value physical amenities that support function and comfort in the workplace, favoring outdoor views, natural light and on-site food service as significant to their workplace satisfaction over recent trendy amenities or service amenities like fitness centers and on-site child care that a smaller percentage of people end up using.

CBRE analyzed a survey of 1,600 North American office users conducted by human resources advisory firm Future Workplace and smart building tech company View Inc. to gauge how extensively a workplace’s physical amenities can influence employee satisfaction and engagement.

While the largest influencers on employee engagement are trust in management, company values, and opportunities for development, physical amenities in the workplace also play a big role.

Specifically, the survey found that these physical amenities are of high importance:

  • 53% identified views of the outdoors among their most valued perks;
  • 53% chose natural light;
  • 44% favored on-site cafeteria access or food service;
  • 37% included on-site kitchens; and
  • 28% chose open office space.

Damla Gerhart, senior managing director of CBRE’s Workplace practice, noted:

A workplace’s physical layout and amenities can signal and reinforce a company’s values for its employees. Moving private offices away from the windows so that most of the floor has an outdoor view shows consideration for all employees. Glass-front offices and open workspaces promote transparency and community. We see a correlation between employee engagement and physical designs and layouts like this.

In its analysis of the survey, CBRE found that the degree of value that respondents placed on physical-space attributes for their workplace has a 95% probability of impacting their overall engagement. For example, respondents with access to natural light in their workplaces are 67% more likely to report being satisfied with their company.

Additionally, employees provided with a variety of work settings — work stations, breakout rooms, communal couches, free-address seating — are 91% more likely to be satisfied with their workplace and organization.

To download CBRE’s How Workplace Experience Can Boost Employee Engagement Workplace Survey Research Report, visit the CBRE website.

To view the original Future Workplace Wellness Study from Future Workplace and View, or to read an article in Harvard Business Review about the study, “Survey: What Employees Want Most from Their Workspaces,” visit the respective websites.