As workforce benefits become an increasingly important part of the mix for employee wellness, productivity, recruitment and retention, employers are looking beyond traditional benefits to offer perks that stand out from the pack. From ping-pong tables and catered lunches to napping pods and on-site massages, it can feel difficult to compete.
It’s true that “work perks” often equate to a happier, healthier workforce, but creating an environment that people want to work in doesn’t have to be outlandish or expensive. According to a new study on “The Employee Experience” published by Future Workplace, what employees want most isn’t a fitness center or even on-site childcare.
It’s a WINDOW. That’s right. The top “perk” employees yearn for is access to natural light.
The findings are surprising, until you consider the experience of employees — huddled within cubicles, interior offices and warehouse environments under the artificial glare of halogen bulbs for half (or more) of their waking hours. According to the study, over a third of employees feel they don’t get enough natural light in their workspace, and nearly half (47%) admit they feel tired or gloomy from the absence of a window or natural light.
At the same time, employees are reporting that overall well-being is the second most important factor when choosing to work for an organization, just after work-life balance, and more important than salary. In other words, even simple tweaks to your workplace environment can make a big difference in employee satisfaction.
This may be a challenge if, like many, you’re stuck with a mid-century office building or factory setting with very few windows and a high concentration of interior workspaces. But don’t despair. If your budget doesn’t allow you to knock down walls, put in skylights or widen the windows, there are other ways to bring more natural light and fresh air into your workplace.
Maximize Outdoor Access.
Does your building have a rooftop, patio, courtyard or lawn that’s underutilized? Look for opportunities to reconfigure these spaces to attract employees outdoors. Simple additions like a picnic area, café tables or a walking trail can encourage employees to eat — and meet — in the open air.
Plant a Living Wall.
Innovative employers like The Honest Company are outfitting their office space with living walls. These vertical, natural gardens of low-maintenance mosses and plants aren’t just beautiful, they provide an important wellness function, removing toxins to improve air quality and dampening ambient noise levels.
The color green has been shown to promote feelings of tranquility and health, not to mention enhanced creative thinking. Consider painting office walls in this nature-evoking color or even adding green or natural décor elements like plants, fountains or koi ponds. Even high-quality artificial plants can make a big difference.
The best way to find out what your employees really want out of their work environment is to ask them. Take advantage of moments when benefits are top of mind — like open enrollment — to poll employees for their opinions and ideas for how to make their workspace more welcoming.
As this latest research shows, their answers may surprise you!