CDI Corporation

Leveraging Office Space to Encourage Employee Engagement and a Strong Company Culture

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Over the last few years, the image of desirable office space has changed considerably. The goal of rising through the ranks to earn a big corner office is increasingly becoming a thing of the past, as many companies shift from designated offices and cubicles to open workspaces. This transformation reflects a growing trend toward work environments that are more conducive to open communication and collaboration among team members, which can be especially beneficial for the contingent workforce.

The new concept of office space isn’t just taking hold at technology and marketing firms; more conservative industries such as banking and education are increasingly adopting this model. Despite all the benefits of this modern work approach, it’s not for every company, nor for every potential hire. As the improved labor market prompts more companies to hire, more attention will need to be placed on what the office environment communicates about the company culture and employee engagement, and if these messages are being communicated effectively.

Believe it or not, office space, a seemingly minor aspect of work life, is growing in importance, so much so that a recent article described a candidate who left a job interview after catching a glimpse of his/her prospective workspace. “While this may seem like a rare or unlikely occurrence, this is the reality, especially when we consider the wants and needs of the growing millennial population,” says Kathy Martin, vice president of Staffing North America. “According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Millennials will make up 75 percent of the 2030 workforce. This generation of workers wants to immediately get a sense of the office energy, and most importantly, what the company culture says about how they will be treated once hired.”

Contingent workers, while typically less concerned than permanent workers about their work space, still want to feel they are an integral part of the team and that the space they are allotted reflects their value to the organization. As more companies turn to contractors and consultants to meet their staffing needs, the issue of where they work and how their space compares to that of their permanent counterparts, is becoming of more pressing concern, especially as we look toward a 2020 workforce in which 50 percent of employees are expected to be contingent workers.

Baby Boomer executives are not immune to these changes either. In many companies that prefer an open office environment, the C-Suite is also finding it must deal with smaller work spaces, if not complete elimination of designated office space altogether.

Retention and employee engagement are among the biggest challenges facing employers today, and office space can help organizations effectively communicate about their company culture. Amenities, company-funded perks and team interaction, both inside and outside the office, are additional features that have the ability to tell a story about the cultural health of the organization. Also, when long-term contractors have access to at least some of these privileges, it helps paint a picture of what their experience will be like, should they choose to sign on for a company project.

Today’s employees don’t want to dread coming in to work every day. They expect to work hard, but they want to have fun doing it, and enjoy the people with whom they work. “When employers include employees in the development and maintenance of the company culture, this creates a real opportunity for them to connect with workers, making it clear that they want them to be active participants in shaping the future of the organization,” adds Martin. “This is where true employee engagement starts, by interfacing with workers, facilitating ongoing, two-way dialogues and communicating this value in the marketplace. Further, this is what can make all the difference to top performers in your blended workforce who have multiple job or project offers, and are faced with deciding whether to join or stay with the company.”

Recent CDI Analysis

“True employee engagement starts by interfacing with workers, facilitating ongoing, two-way dialogues and communicating this value in the marketplace.”

Kathy Martin
Vice President, Staffing North America, CDI Corporation

Employment Situation (U.S.)

Despite the unemployment rate remaining at 5.5 percent for the month of March, and job growth being lower than expected, the U.S. added 126,000 jobs across a variety of sectors.

According to the March Employment Situation released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, industries that added the most workers included the professional and business services sector, which grew by 40,000. Within this general field some of the areas where hiring saw an uptick included architectural and engineering services, management and technical consulting services, and computer systems design and related services. Other sectors such as construction, government, financial activities, transportation and warehousing changed very little.

Although overall job growth was lower than the 248,000 jobs that economists had predicted, Nasdaq stated that the Federal Reserve is not worried about the U.S. economy declining. If the employment numbers get back on track, the organization plans to increase interest rates.

The full Bureau of Labor Statistics report can be downloaded by
clicking here.

Employment Situation (Canada)

Canada added jobs unexpectedly during the month of March, according to the Labour Force Survey released by Statistics Canada.

Overall, the country added 29,000 positions, yet the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 6.8 per cent. From an industry perspective, the retail and wholesale sector saw significant growth for the first time since October 2014, adding 20,000 workers to its payroll. The transportation and warehousing sector grew by 16,000 jobs, while the natural resource industry added 6,300 jobs. Notably, this was the first time in two months the latter field added more jobs as opposed to shrinking its workforce.

Employment in educational service increased by 12,000. On a year-by-year basis, this sector has added 69,000 positions, totaling a growth of 5.7 per cent. Some of the industries that lost jobs in March include construction, which shrank by 12,000 jobs, and public administration, which lost 11,000 positions.

The Wall Street Journal noted that while the report demonstrated much-welcome labour force increases, many of Canada’s new jobs were part-time. Overall, 56,800 part-time positions were added to the country’s payroll, while full-time employment dropped by 28,200. This trend has been ongoing since the start of 2015 – the source added that between January and March, the nation has taken on a net gain of 69,100 part-time jobs and lost 6,100 full-time jobs. It should be noted that in the 12 months leading up to March, most of the overall employment growth was among people aged 55 or older, up 2.8 per cent.

“The full-time and part-time split is not great, and it’s been part of a trend. We have had a lot of part-time job creation, and that’s not the optimal kind,” Eric Lascelles, chief economist at RBC Global Asset Management, the institutional investment arm of Royal Bank of Canada, told the Wall Street Journal. The source added that the March employment report is expected to reinforce the Bank of Canada’s approach of taking its time to determine how the negative fallout from lower crude-oil prices is affecting the broader economy before deciding whether another rate cut is necessary.

Canadian ES Report:
Labour Force Survey, March 2015

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