Those usually interested in the subject matter of Employer Branding know perfectly well from experience and from the previously read articles what EB is, what it is for and what tools can be or should be used to show a positive image of the brand to the recipients.
Of course, this issue is not a new one and it has been known for a long time that the need for building an appropriate image of the company is the everyday struggle of most organisations, however, it is worth knowing that the definition of Employer Branding was introduced no sooner than in 2001 by the McKinsey company and it set out a new direction of HR activities. In Poland, EB has been present for a long time, but the breakthrough year, at least according to specialists, was 2013, recognised as the year of strategies and well-thought-out campaigns. Obviously, the awareness of the need for Employer Branding is growing each year, but 2018 marked the first time when more than 50% of companies declared in the study carried out by the HRM Institute that they had a more or less specified EB strategy. It is worth mentioning that only 18% of them have this strategy fully defined.
Employer Branding is a powerful HR tool. Following the simple statement of image is everything, EB sends a message about the organisation out into the world – about its values, approach to employees and the culture of operation.
A very important issue is also the fact that Employer Branding is addressed to two target groups – external and internal:
Understanding the needs and expectations of these two target groups will allow us to answer the question of why an organisation would need a well-designed office.
As shown by the latest research, approximately 90% of job candidates declare that one of the key elements when selecting an employer is the interior of the office where they would be working. A very clearly noticeable trend – particularly for the last two/three years – is the fight for employees using the tool of working environment. This can be observed particularly strongly in industries such as IT, FINTECH, SSC, and BPO, where the nature of work is similar in certain categories, and the remuneration similar.
Another very important, if not the most important, attribute of the employer is the atmosphere prevailing in the organisation and in the office itself. As many as 95% of the surveyed indicate this factor as the most important element when making decisions on undertaking or continuing cooperation with a company.
A place we go to for 8–12 hours a day must supply employees with a number of solutions that will allow them to perform the entrusted tasks in the agreed manner, as well as a set of elements that will enable free contact with the external world. Another very important element is the communication connection between co-workers – those are often people from different generations or simply with different characters, such as introverts/extraverts. Experience gained from numerous projects shows that a properly designed office allows the employees to perform work more effectively or enables better internal communication. A number of measures, such as attractively and diversely prepared common areas, properly programmed multi-functional kitchens, attractive open spaces, and dedicated focus rooms, allow for creating the optimal working environment. Obviously, we cannot forget such significant aspects as optimal utilitarian character of areas (which does not mean a compact use of each square metre – as “breathing space” is also important) and their preparation for mobility, taking into consideration the fact that the present business can be very dynamic in the context of changes in projects – their availability, tasks and sizes of teams.
All this results in the increasingly greater interest enjoyed by the open approach to designing exceptional office interiors, and it is worth remembering that the first step should be to thoroughly examine the organisation’s needs in this respect.
What is the most important in Employer Branding and building a PR image of the organisation can be definitely translated into interior design of the office if it is to be a kind of continuation of the strategy. The created strategic EB pillars should be the pillars of a well-prepared design. This does not always need to be reflected literally, but reference should be sought in the functionality of space and in the finishing materials and solutions used. If we assume that the message we want to send to the market (both external and internal) is supposed to present the organisation as a true and caring, stable, credible, creative, mobile, dynamic or traditional, the decor itself also needs to reflect this.
With the present awareness of employees, it is difficult to persuade anybody that a company is caring and has a pleasant work atmosphere by showing – during an interview – a standard open space with poor lighting or non-ergonomic equipment contrasted with a magnificent reception desk, which turns out to be the only successful element in the office. It is hard to persuade someone that the company is very creative if we have white walls and smooth beige lining all around us.
In order to prepare well for designing an office, one has to understand the message he or she wishes to send to employees, as well as what functional needs current users really have and may have in the future – let us remember that a new office is supposed to be open also in 5 or 7 years. It is important to specify the style we want to have the interior in and whether it needs to, for example, be internally mobile. It is worth examining these expectations at the very beginning, by using, for example, surveys or interviews, and then giving them to experts to implement in the design process.
Modernisation or construction of a new office is a challenge faced by organisations once every five or seven years on average – sometimes less frequently. One of the budget items in such an investment, beside rent, movables, IT or physical relocation, is the item related to finishing of the office (fitout). It still frequently happens that the item related to the decor and office equipment becomes an afterthought at best. However, it is worth realising that the sustained outlays will pay off in aspects such as work efficiency, increase in creativity, lower absence rates, greater satisfaction with the work environment – all this together will raise the internal and external EVP (Employer Value Positioning). This will be reflected in an increased staff retention rate or will facilitate acquisition of new talents, which, in combination with less time off (for instance, due to anxiety or fatigue), will reduce HR costs.
Costs of the investment project implementation can be easily presented with the example of an office employing, for example, 200 employees. They would need an office with the average gross surface area of 2,400 m2. Let us assume costs of higher-quality fitout at the level of EUR 700/m2. With a new building, costs of organisation after deducting the developer's/lessor's budget should be at the level of ca. EUR 400/m2. This would give us expenses amounting to EUR 1.0 million for fitout – which should be considered for partial financing from the CAPEX and OPEX budgets). With a contract for 5 years, where we would pay ca. EUR 4 million for rent, during the effective term of which we would spend ca. EUR 24 million on salaries, it gives approx. 3.5% of principal costs of running business operations. With a contract for 7 years, this will amount to nearly 2.5 %. Add to this savings related to reducing expenses for HR activities.
This is obviously a matter of making a decision, but it is worth being aware that, in the global perspective, outlays for preparation of a good work environment are not crazy high.
The question answers itself – YES!
The most important step to making the decision on designing an office compliant with the Employer Branding strategy is awareness of the need to make a decision on introducing changes in the organisation. This would require overcoming many, often difficult, challenges, but would ultimately provide us with a tool that would allow us to fulfil EB elements most expected by the organisation, such as COHESION OF COMMUNICATION, COMMITMENT OF EMPLOYEES, EASE IN ATTRACTING TALENTS.
If, in the relocation or modernisation process, the Management Board along with HR, PR and EB departments demonstrate a high level of openness to changes, courage and commitment – the success is guaranteed!
Author: Konrad Krusiewicz, Founder / CEO, The Design Group