The latest computer technology, a clean office, and a window with a view – give those things to Gen Z office workers and they might just stick around a little longer.
That’s the finding from a recent survey of office workers across several workplaces in metropolitan Sydney by Place Score – a company specialising in census-like assessments of town centres, retail strips and, most recently, office buildings.
Survey respondents in the 15-25 age bracket, considered Gen Z, ranked ‘quality of technology-hardware’, such as computers and printers, as their number-one priority in the workplace, followed by ‘evidence of people looking after the place’, which included keeping a clean desk and putting rubbish in the bins.
Other groups of workers – Gen Y (25-34 years) and Gen X (35-54 years) – had different priorities. They ranked ‘access to natural light and/or air’ as their top attribute, followed by ‘views to the outdoors’. Gen Z ranked these attributes third and fourth respectively.
These findings, and others like them, are allowing businesses and office landlords to better understand what individual employees want from a workplace and thereby combat employee turnover, which is becoming an important issue for employers.
Between 2016 and 2017, Place Score collected 380+ online Workplace Care Factor surveys across several workplaces across metro-Sydney. The margin of error for this snapshot sample, with 95 per cent confidence level, is less than 9.7 per cent. Source: Place Score
A study commissioned by specialist recruiter Robert Half in 2018 found that one in seven (15 per cent) Australian workers was ‘likely’ to look for a new job.
The same study found that more than two-thirds (67 per cent) of Australian employers have seen an increase in staff departures in the past three years.
According to Kylie Legge, founder and chief executive of Place Score, not enough consideration is given to the impact of a physical workspace in an employee’s decision to stay or leave a company.
“We don’t really know a lot about how people are experiencing their work life. There are a lot of conversations about workplace culture, but what we don’t know is about the actual experience. We don’t know a lot about how the physical elements of a building or place are affecting people’s workdays,” Ms Legge said.
Place Score – a spin off from urban planning consultants Place Partners – has been asking workers these questions, aggregating their responses and showing clients what their staff members want from their workplace.
“What we’re doing is measuring ‘place experience’, or [what we term] PX,” Ms Legge said.
“That’s what workers care about and how they are being impacted by different environments.”
Place Score spent two years in research development, including a review period with Macquarie University. Since its inception it has worked primarily with local and state governments to measure community sentiment, but is now also extending its services to office clients.
What workers see as the ideal working environment can vary dramatically from industry to industry, according to Ms Legge, who said that Place Score didn’t just focus on the internal office environment but also the amenities that surround it.
“For some people having a big desk or their own equipment is important, for others access to public transport and surrounding amenities is important,” she said.
Sometimes a Place Score report can help employers decide between moving to a new office or renovating the one they are in.
“[One of the] projects we did was with an architecture firm, testing whether they should move offices or do a fit out. Instead of just leaving that decision with the top two or three people at the company, we were measuring across all employees,” Ms Legge said.
But understanding employee preferences isn’t just critical to employers. Office landlords, seeking to future-proof their assets, or target them to a particular employment group, can also leverage the insights.
“We can find out what people in marketing and banking and IT think is important and create a link and say if you’re looking for a building this is what these types of tenants are looking for. It helps solve their problem.”
Speaking generally, similar applications could have huge cost ramifications for businesses and the landlords hosting them, she said.
“If [Place Score found that] natural light is important, and you only have a small window in your existing office, then moving would be appropriate. But if people want more choices in seating arrangements, that can be achieved relatively cheaply [in the existing building].”
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