Seven Essentials for an Effective Workplace

The most successful employers are always looking for a fully balanced “win-win” when it comes to achieving both higher productivity and healthier, happier, and more engaged employees. These organizations do not view the workplace as a zero sum game where the needs of employers are competing with the needs of employees. Rather, they seek to achieve a competitive edge by identifying and promoting those factors that make work a more successful experience for both employers and employees. A recent study, sponsored by the Society for Human Resource Management, identified seven of these “win-win” factors that benefit both employers and employees:

  1. Job Challenge and Learning Opportunities
  2. Work-Life Fit
  3. Satisfaction with Wages, Benefits and Opportunities to Advance
  4. Culture of Respect, Trust and Belonging
  5. Autonomy
  6. Supervisor Support for Job Success
  7. Coworker Support for Job Success

This study found that:

  • 55% of employees in workplaces scoring high on these factors (i.e. highly effective workplaces) are highly engaged compared with 20% of employees in moderately effective workplaces and 7% of employees in the least effective workplaces. The results were similar when measuring job satisfaction and with regard employee retention.
  • 42% of employees in highly effective workplaces report excellent health, compared with 12% in the least effective workplaces.
  • 75% of employees in highly effective workplaces report low frequency of sleep problems, compared with 49% in organizations with low levels of workplace effectiveness.
  • While overall levels of stress are reported quite high across the board, 36% of employees in highly effective workplaces experience low levels of stress compared with 13% of employees in organizations with low levels of workplace effectiveness.

Work-Life Fit was identified as one of the top 3 components in predicting positive work-related outcomes (the other two were Job Challenge & Learning Opportunities and Satisfaction with Wages, Benefits and Opportunities to Advance). In fact, the research demonstrated that Work-Life Fit was the single most important factor in Greater Job Satisfaction and the second most important factor in Greater Engagement and Greater Probability of Retention.

With respect to predicting positive health and well-being outcomes, Work-Life Fit was the most important component for 4 of the 6 dimensions measured including less frequent sleep problems, less frequent minor health problems, lower levels of perceived stress and lower level of work-personal/family spillovers.

The value of workplace flexibility has also been well documented by a research partnership between the University of Minnesota and M.I.T. that has been studying the relationship between work, family and health for more than a decade. The research confirmed that workplace flexibility, when successfully implemented, resulted in happier and healthier employees who were also successfully meeting their work objectives.

It’s not just academic institutions and professional organizations that are following the trail of this promising research.  Google is 5 years into what it hopes will be a 100 year study about how to “build great work environments, cultivate high performing teams and maximize productivity.”

Overall, only 35% of employees in the U.S. are in workplaces that have at least 3 of the 7 components of an effective workplace (only 4% have all 7) while 36% go to work in organizations which have none of the dimensions.

Given the importance of these factors to employee health and productivity, these findings should encourage employers to find ways to improve their organization’s performance on these benchmarks.

One way to improve employee engagement, which is characterized by higher energy, involvement and efficacy, is to make sure that front-line managers have the training and people skills to effectively implement strategies to improve employees’ Work-Life Fit.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are uniquely positioned to help organizations with this training mission because they remain linked with the organization long after the training phase and are well-positioned to see whether the desired results are being achieved.

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