TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Coffee bars. Sushi classes. Game rooms.
At many companies, the workplace today shares little in common with those of just a decade ago, and for many it pays off through talent acquisition, employee retention and the bottom line. For others, the perks don’t pay off and the only person at fault is the one in charge.
“You have to track it and you have to hold yourself accountable for it, and if you do there will be rapid and very powerful change in the overall employee engagement and the overall happiness of your team,” says Jamie Hodari, CEO and co-founder of Industrious, an outsourcing service for businesses looking to inject hospitality into the workplace or undertake shared work space.
Thanks to companies such as Google, with catered breakfasts and shuttles delivering employees from home to work and back, hospitality is the buzzword in human resources today. But Google recognized early how technology, combined with the commoditization of the physical space of an office, has made its employees its No.1 asset in front of both the customer and the shareholder.
“We’re at a point where the quality of your people is really your only long-term source of competitive success,” Hodari tells a session on transforming organizational culture at the CAR Management Briefing Seminars here. “We’re not in a world where that is completely novel, but it has crystalized. The magnitude of it has become greater than ever before.”
Employees, especially the massive Millennial demographic, want their workplace to reflect themselves and feel like home, Hodari says. They don’t want to sit at a desk all day, even if the job is running an Excel program from their desktop.
“The evidence is overwhelming,” he says of a nine-hour day in the swivel chair. It is extremely tiring, uninspiring and it is bad for your health. And it’s not right for the varieties of work we do.”
It sounds expensive, Hodari admits. But much of it can be accomplished with furniture and matching various work places to the tasks being performed at a particular time.
But the most important element of a healthy, cozy and productive workplace is hospitality. It sounds fluffy, Hodari says, but it works.
“It makes a huge difference in employee engagement and employee retention,” he says.
And when it comes time for the lunchtime sushi class, make it exactly that, Hodari adds. Social events should decouple from work and focus on engagement and networking.
“The sushi-making class is invigorating,” he says.
But there is a flipside to the workplace revolution. An attractive office environment can lead to longer hours at the expense of important time away from the grind.
“That gives me a lot of anxiety,” Hodari says. “We’re a business trying to give the market what it wants, but this is a trend that might reach a breaking point.”