engaged employees sustainable transformation illustration large version Illustration by Pavle Ciric @pajac_

How engaged employees drive a more sustainable transformation

In this series we discuss workplace strategies that help leaders gain a competitive edge during the transformation of their businesses.


How to design workspaces that nurture people and boost employee engagement

The value of commercial real estate has evolved far beyond the workspace itself. The work environment now acts as a business operating system, shaping how people interact with each other and as a result, greatly influencing the work that they do. In times where every company is in a constant state of change, employees are increasingly focused on the role they play in fulfilling a common social mission.

Transformation can be an uncomfortable experience for both business leaders and employees, especially when it requires rethinking existing business models or rapidly creating new products and services within new fields of expertise. When workplace environments are designed for specific job functions whose role in the business may change with time, they often fall short.

Businesses today are heavily investing in human-centric design strategies that engage all staff with their vision in order to create new kinds of operational agility in their workplaces. Here, the mission-driven organisation has an advantage.

“Employers that are effectively linking their social missions to their employee’s daily work are differentiating themselves in the market and generating big returns.”

Taking the necessary steps to ensure every employee knows how they fulfil the mission, achieve the vision, and execute one or more company strategies through his or her daily job really pays off.”

– Tamar Elkeles, Ph.D., Chief Talent Executive, Atlantic Bridge Capital.

Architects and designers are beginning a new phase of design thinking, shifting from the tasks the organisation needs to perform today, to the set of behaviours that will support its mission over the long term. This helps clients support collaboration among a wider range of skills within a single  workplace environment.

people sitting at high work tables

How do engaged staff improve business performance?

Mission-driven workers are 54% more likely to stay for five years at a company and 30% more likely to grow into high performers than those who arrive at work with only their pay check as the motivator.

In a body of internal research called “Seven Things We Know for Sure at Cisco”, Roxanne Bisby Davis and Ashley Goodall explore the drivers of workplace engagement for staff at Cisco, a global leader in networking and cybersecurity.

“Imagine a team leader having three distinct jobs. Her first is to ensure her team members feel connected to the purpose and future of the company, even though she may not directly define those. Her second is to ensure that her team members, as a group, understand and support one another. And her third is to ensure that her team members understand what’s expected of them and how they can do their best work now and in the future, all the while feeling recognised for who they are.”

people working in lounge bar near green wall

The role of wellbeing in workplace engagement

By giving individuals more choices about how their work gets done and supporting initiatives with policy, executive teams can foster trust in their work environments. We see that people respond well to more control which in turn drives performance and talent retention. The amenities that support individuals and at an organisational scale, better encourage knowledge sharing and further improve collaboration.

The correlation between physical health, productivity and mental fitness is strong. With design for employee wellbeing beginning to reach maturity, human-centric workplaces can offer tangible benefits. The financial returns of mitigating the effects of burnout create a clear case for the management of employee health and wellbeing.

Nabil Sabet

Group Director

Charlie Millard

Regional Director, Head of Office

Jeni Durksen

Associate Director, Design

Frances Gain

Associate Director, Workplace Strategy and Transformation

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