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The Workplace as a differentiator - Blog 1, Values

Posted on Fri, 2018-07-27 15:34 by Martin Dempsey

The workplace is now a competitive differentiator. It helps business leaders secure and retain the best talent, increase productivity and reduce overheads. The best workplaces drive innovation by enhancing collaboration and helping to create a happier, healthier and more engaged workforce.

These aren’t our words – although we absolutely agree with the statement.  This is the opening paragraph of a blog by William Brouwer published by Accenture this week.  The workplace is a competitive differentiator.  This by nature means that it has a direct impact on the success or otherwise of your business. 

So, why is it a competitive differentiator?  Over the coming weeks, we’ll explore this theme in our blogs which will cover a number of themes – collaboration, productivity, wellbeing, staff engagement, efficiency and image.  In many cases, these themes are part of a positive virtuous cycle and intervening to improve wellbeing has a direct impact on engagement and productivity.

We’ll begin this week with the final item in our list – using the workplace to represent a company’s image and brand.  Currently, despite all the uncertainty of Brexit, unemployment in the UK is at the lowest rate in more than 40 years.  Attracting the best talent is a huge challenge and retaining it is an even greater challenge.  I had a conversation this week about a large organisation which was more than 600 vacancies and they cannot fill them faster than more people leave to create additional vacancies.

Generation Z are now knocking on the door of the workforce, and like millennials, bring a stronger sense of value-based career decisions.  People want to get a ‘feel’ for the organisation that is recruiting them, and money is not always the most important factor.  From a hiring perspective, staff are significantly more likely to assimilate quickly, become fully productive more quickly and stay with the business for a longer period if they feel like they fit in and understand and share the values of the company.

To this end, it’s become a critical factor that the workplace is a reflection of the organisation’s brand, values and culture.  These need to be designed into the space, not onto it – motivational quotes on the wall and plenty of branded signage is not the answer.  The right workplace will have a sense of atmosphere that reflects the people who work there.  It could be a modern, sleek, professional feel for a cutting edge professional services firm, or an informal, homely, dynamic space full of movement and flexibility for a digital technology firm.

It could be anything in between or beyond – but it has to fit to the culture that will make its home there.  When a company gets it right, the workplace becomes a cornerstone in hiring and retaining staff, making people feel valued and engaged and giving staff and leadership the spaces they need to be successful individually and collectively.

When competing for talent, consider what a candidate’s first impression will be when they arrive for their interview.  How well does your workplace reflect your company culture?  Does it align with the promises and pledges that you’re making to your candidates?