‘Simplicity is the key,' quite literally, according to the results of a recent study that has found that simple workplaces encourage better retention and innovation. The report, ‘Simplicity at Work,' by Siegal+Gale’s, has found that having a simpler workspace has several benefits, and documented them exhaustively. Let’s take a closer look at the study.
What is the study?
The study was conducted with over 14,000 people in nine countries and sought to understand how the workplace impacts other factors. The effects of a simpler workspace, “wherein employees easily get their work done and feel productive and fulfilled doing so” were studied on culture, employer branding, employee retention and innovation and advocacy. The aim was to understand the respondents’ own understanding of their company's brand, how simple they felt their work experience to be, and ease of innovation in the company.
What did the study find?
- First off, nearly 30% of the respondents felt that their workspaces were ‘complex’ and difficult to handle. Only one in five found their workplace to be truly simple.
- However, of those who view their workspace as ‘simple,' 95% are more likely to trust their leaders, 54% find it easier to innovate, 65% are more likely to refer others to join the company, and nearly 84% intend to stay longer at their job.
- Exploring makes simple workspaces ‘simple’, the study explains: broadcasting clearly from the top, clarifying how employees’ roles impact relationship with clients, fostering psychological safety, and rewarding/recognizing employees.
- The study notes that companies that are older than 50 years have over 1,000 employees and serve several types of customers (both B2C and B2B) tend to be more ‘complex.’
- The study notes that company values, ethics, and cultures percolate much deeper in simpler organizations, and ‘brand champions,' with an immense commitment to what the organization stands for are naturally cultivated in such an environment.
- Such brand champions are 65% more likely to advocate on behalf of their company, “are also more likely than disengaged employees to handle unexpected problems well (33 percent); feel productive on a typical workday (35 percent); try to learn new things, even if they are difficult (39 percent); and look for ways to improve the way they work (40 percent).”
- The cultural norm of an organization impacts the cultivation of brand champions: while 48% of the Indian respondents considered themselves to be brand champions, only 12% in Japan think of themselves on similar lines.
How are the results relevant?
The authors of the study say that building simple experiences at work is critical to ensure better employee engagement. Companies need to simplify their employer value proposition “to give candidates a reason to join and employees a reason to stay... Make it easy and rewarding for employees to do their jobs. Create a culture of simplicity with clear, open communication that ties employees’ roles to business goals. When you streamline processes and connect the dots for employees, they start to see a bigger and better picture.” They state that a company’s size or age or industry has minimal to do with reducing complexity at work, which is possible once leaders put their minds to it.
In today’s world where employee engagement and satisfaction is at the forefront of retention and productivity debate, the results couldn’t be more opportune. Often leaders and employers underestimate the effectiveness of simple and uncomplicated policies to ensure engagement and retention. The results are a fitting reminder that amidst all the changes that are shaking up the very foundation of work, one must be forgotten: the simpler, the better.