Disengaged employees - how to avoid the cost - Business Works
BW brief

Disengaged employees - how to avoid the cost

by Bostjan Ljubic, VP of Steelcase UK and Ireland UK  businesses are suffering massive losses in company performance due to 'disengaged' employees who complain of working conditions that result in constant distraction and disruption and a lack of privacy, says Bostjan Ljubic, VP of Steelcase UK and Ireland.

Research by the Centre for Mental Health shows that presenteeism (at work physically but unproductive mentally) costs UK businesses £15bn per year - and that includes the cost of disengaged employees.

A recent IPSOS survey that we commissioned at Steelcase, highlights this issue. It surveyed 10,500 employees working in open plan offices across 14 different countries and found that only 11% of workers in open plan offices are engaged and inspired at work, 63% are disengaged and unmotivated, 37% describe their workplace as stressful'.

only 50% are able to work without interruption

Lack of privacy and unwanted distractions were workers number one complaint, with the average worker being interrupted every three minutes and taking up to 23 minutes to return to the task at hand. In the UK, only 57% of the people surveyed said they could concentrate easily and only 50% are able to work without interruption.

49% of all offices in the UK are open plan, the highest figure of the countries surveyed, and although most workers felt that open plan spaces were fit for their lifestyle and an appropriate space for them to work, many still reported being stressed and distracted.

This research shows that, although there are positives to working in an open plan office, including the ease of communicating with colleagues and collaboration, it also shows that workers need privacy to fulfil more demanding tasks. By catering for different work styles in the office and providing employees with a choice of space, UK businesses can ensure that workers are supported, reducing the impact of distraction on workers' wellbeing and productivity.

Following the research, we have collaborated with Dr Susan Cain, author of best-selling book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking on spaces that address the need for more focus and privacy at work. Her tips for reducing the stress of our over-stimulating and high-tech offices include:

  • giving permission to be alone - private, quiet spaces free from interruption support focus and innovation, providing a respite from an otherwise highly stimulating workplace. Making these spaces available to introverts signals that the organization understands and respects their need to work differently;

  • control over their environment - introverts are more sensitive to stimulation and have a greater need for control over their environment. They also have a lower tolerance for external forces such as noise and light, so it's important for them to be able to control these elements in the workspace;

  • offering sensory balance - contrary to what one might expect, introverts seek sensory stimulation, but often in the form of warm, calming influences, such as natural woods and other organic materials;

  • being psychologically safe - introverts often feel like they're perpetually on stage, as if all eyes are on them. At times, they need spaces where they can choose to be unseen and where they can't see others, for either rejuvenation or focus.

There needs to be a balance between the isolated, cage-like office cubicles of the past and today's noisy, public and distracting spaces. The solution is to offer a balance, spaces to relax or focus as well as spaces to collaborate and be social, when workers are given the power to make decisions over their working environments the workspace will be a much more productive and stress-free environment.

For more information, please visit: Susan Cain - Quiet Spaces.

Tweet article
BW on TwitterBW RSS feed