What Employees Really Want

Posted on 22/09/2013

Google’s London headquarters seems like the ideal place to work. Far from the typical office environment, the interior designers were instructed to create a vibrant workspace that made going to work fun. Cosy snugs, a library of inspirational books, roof terrace allotments, and a games room kitted out with pool tables and consoles are all designed to encourage employees to adopt a more creative and relaxed approach to work. Sounds like a dream but are gimmicks really what make us happy at work or is it far simpler than that? According to a recent survey by workplace website Job Advisor, published in an article on the website news.co.au, being treated well and listened to by management is what employees really want.

In its survey of over 1000 Australian workers, Job Advisor wanted to discover what employees felt was most important in ensuring a happy working environment and what their biggest bugbears were. 35 per cent of participants responded that they had a good working relationship and felt well treated by their employees who were ‘respectful and wise.’ 14 per cent reported that they felt they were trusted by their employers and given the confidence to think for themselves and make important decisions and a further 10 per cent were more than happy in their workplace and ‘would follow [their employers] anywhere.’

Although this is encouraging, 15 per cent of respondents complained that their employers were ‘control freaks’ and 12 per cent felt that credit for work they had done was taken by management. Back stabbing was blamed by 11 per cent of participants for bad feelings in the work place, whilst 8 per cent felt they were constantly put down by those higher up in the company. Clearly what employees really want is not games and superficial perks but to feel appreciated, listened to and encouraged by their employees. Justin Babet, CEO of Job Advisor, said that such perks are really just ‘window dressing’ and ‘focusing on the superficial’, and not what will ensure a happy workforce in the long term.

Google Offices Soho, London (22 of 27)

In fact, the current trend for more relaxed, open plan workspaces have recently been fingered for a fall in productivity and a rise in frequency of employee sickness. So, if pricey perks don’t work, what can employers do to increase happiness amongst its staff? ‘Invest in your management team’, advises Babet. The majority of those dissatisfied at work blamed ‘lack of management skills or something their boss has done that has really upset them.’

The survey seems to highlight the need for greater emphasis on workplace relations. Employees want to feel respected and valued, as well as encouraged and supported. So who’s getting it right? Adobe ranked top when it came to workplace satisfaction, with Microsoft and Commonwealth Bank second and third respectively, followed by EY Australia, Telstra and AGL, with Westpac and Vodafone also scoring more than 70%. The conclusion? Invest your money on good management and not superficial perks such as gym membership and games rooms and yours will be far more likely to be a happy, harmonious place to work.

By George B (follow me on Google)