What do employees really want out of their physical working environment? What’s the right answer in the open office vs private office debate? How does your culture resonate with employees in the workplace?
These are just a few of the questions we set out to answer in the course of researching and gathering input from over a thousand credit union employees for our latest whitepaper, “A Study of Credit Union Workplaces and the Future of Work.” It’s one thing to discuss these topics from a high-level view, but we believe that gathering data to capture a more accurate picture of the situation is vital when making facilities decisions that have long-term impacts on your staff and your credit union.
The answers to these and other popular questions about the credit union working environment are not always what you’d expect. We’d like to share the three most surprising insights we found in the data.
- Employees want an environment that takes care of their basic wellness and comfort needs.
The offices that make the news the most are places like Google and Silicon Valley startups that focus on fun with things like bean bag chairs and game rooms. But do these types of workplaces attract employees?
The answer is no! When ranked in terms of importance, basic wellness, and comfort features such as lighting, a comfortable chair, noise levels, and temperature were by far the top priorities in the workplace. But the data also found that while these features were the most important, they were also some of the features that employees were least satisfied with. And, going into the COVID-19 pandemic, only about two-thirds of credit union employees were satisfied with general cleanliness and health and safety provisions.
The takeaway? If you want to make the biggest impact on engagement, recruiting, and retention efforts, look past the gimmicks and make sure that your employees’ basic needs are taken care of first!
- The answer to the “open office vs private offices” debate is “neither.”
This is a hotly contested topic, and the sides generally fall into fully open office workspaces or private offices and cubicles. But it turns out that this is a false dichotomy. What the average employee really wants is the choice to pick their own workspace.
The nature of work is changing from being task-based to more collaborative and project based, and as a result it’s becoming difficult for many employees to accomplish tasks in their current workspaces. Only 55% of credit union employees work from a single workstation, and, of those who work in multiple settings, only 33% feel encouraged to do so and only 28% feel that their culture supports mobility in the workplace. And on the flip side, only 25% of employees are satisfied with the availability of quiet spaces for focused work.
The solution is to provide a balance of private and collaborative spaces so that your employees can choose the setting that best fits the task at hand, working in a collaborative space with coworkers or retreating to a quiet workstation for focused tasks. This approach to workplace strategy is called Activity Based Working.
- Only 57% of credit union employees are proud of their workplace.
Word of mouth and employee referrals is a leading source of new hires, yet only 57% of credit union employees say that they would be proud to bring people to their workplace and only 61% say their workplace environment contributes to a sense of community. Culture is a driving force for recruiting and retention, even outweighing pay, but the data reveals that this is an area that many credit union employees are unsatisfied with.
The credit union mission of “People Helping People” is a powerful draw for employees looking to do impactful work. But culture needs to permeate through an organization and be embodied at all levels, supporting not only members but employees as well. All of the insights from our research stem from this. We’ve uncovered areas where credit unions have an opportunity to better support their employees, but it’s the culture of the organizations that enables them to make a meaningful impact.
One of the largest driving forces behind these low numbers is a disconnect between policies set by the organization and the physical working environment supporting those policies. A common example is around taking breaks and relaxing during working hours. Many credit unions encourage this through policy, but 49% of credit union employees say that their workplace doesn’t support them taking breaks. Understanding where these gaps between employee’s expectations and reality are for both your organization and the industry as a whole can help you better target your investments in the workplace for the largest impact.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. To learn more about the current state of credit union workplace environments and the future of work, as well as strategies to transform your workplace into one that engages your employees and attracts the best talent, download the full whitepaper today!