UK workers rate feelings of trust and autonomy from employers and colleagues as increasingly important in keeping them productive and happy in the workplace, reveals a new survey from Peldon Rose. However, the survey also shows that many employers fail to provide employees with the resources and support they need to manage their workload and keep them motivated.

Although the majority of staff (59 per cent) say they work most productively in the office, a third (33 per cent) wish they were more trusted to manage how and when they work and 42 per cent say that their office does not support a culture that allows them to work flexibly. Despite the clear value that staff place on trust and autonomy, employers are overlooking an opportunity to create a confident and self-motivated workforce.

Survey highlights

· Trust: 19 per cent do not feel their company trusts them and 33 per cent say they wish they were more trusted by their employer to manage how and when they work
· Autonomy: 42 per cent of employees revealed that their office does not have a culture that allows them to work flexibly
· Happiness: 42 per cent of employees say that their current office environment does not have a positive impact on their happiness and only 36 per cent enjoy coming to work everyday
· Office feedback: 52 per cent are not involved in planned changes to the office environment
· Productive environments: 59 per cent of employees report working most productively in the office followed by 30 per cent at home and five per cent in a café
· Productive environments: Working out of the office makes employees feel disconnected (50 per cent), isolated or lonely (33 per cent), less motivated (33 per cent) and less productive (27 per cent)
· Office tools: Many are missing the amenities needed to work remotely around the office, including outdoor spaces (79 per cent), lounge areas (71 per cent), and breakout spaces (60 per cent)
· Relationships: 76 per cent say that their colleagues and peers are the most likely to keep them happy at work, followed by a good relationship with their boss (68 per cent) and office environment (66 per cent)
· Teamwork: 39 per cent say their current office environment does not foster camaraderie or teamwork between colleagues
· Extra hours for bonding: 66 per cent say they would spend more hours in the office if extra facilities were provided, with 17 per cent saying they would spend more than two hours extra per day

As many organisations know, building trust and creating autonomous thinkers can be difficult, and employers who are keen to improve the productivity and wellbeing of their workforce would do well to consider implementing the following recommendations from Peldon Rose:

Emphasise the need for feedback

The survey revealed that although employees are cognisant of what makes them more productive and efficient on a day to day basis, they are rarely included in office wide decisions, with 52 per cent saying they are not involved in planned changes to the office environment, 50 per cent are not asked about their satisfaction with the office, 49 per cent are not asked about how they use the office and 48 per cent are not consulted on problems with the office.

Engaging employees and creating an open dialogue about the company, its long-term strategy and the office environment will ensure that employees understand the motivation behind decisions and feel consulted in the process. This will support staff motivation and retention.

Provide the tools and environment employees need to thrive

Whilst occasional working from home remains popular, the majority (59 per cent) of employees still report that they work most productively in the office compared with at home (30 per cent) or a café (five per cent). This could be due to the feelings associated with not being present in the office, with employees saying that working out of the office makes them feel disconnected (50 per cent), isolated or lonely (33 per cent), less motivated (33 per cent) and even less productive (27 per cent).

With so many employees preferring to work in the office, employers should provide an environment that will keep staff motivated and improve their wellbeing. Yet many workers say their office is missing the amenities they need to work around the office, including outdoor spaces (79 per cent), lounge areas (71 per cent), breakout spaces (60 per cent) and a kitchen (36 per cent).

Equally as important, employees need the tools and technology to work agile in the workspace, but 35 per cent report they currently don’t have this. Employers should ensure their office has the IT infrastructure, including Wi-Fi, laptops and secure connections on mobile devices, in place to help create a happy, motivated and productive workforce.

Promote working relationships among colleagues that fosters trust

When staff are able to connect emotionally with their colleagues, they are more likely to feel empowered and happy. The main factors that keep employees happy in the workplace are their colleagues and peers (76 per cent) followed by a good relationship with their boss (68 per cent) and the office environment (66 per cent).

If employees are provided with office facilities that make them more inclined to spend more time in the office, they will have the ability to spend more time with the colleagues to bond and team build.

Two thirds (66 per cent) of employees say they would spend more hours in the office if extra facilities were provided, with 17 per cent saying they would spend more than two hours extra per day. By incorporating facilities like a coffee bar, gym or shower, employers will create opportunities for staff to bond with their colleagues while enjoying a healthy lifestyle.

Create a culture that encourages autonomy

The survey revealed that 42 per cent of employees say that their current office environment does not have a positive impact on their happiness and only 36 per cent enjoy coming to work every day, yet 80 per cent believe that the office is important for staff retention. Employees also say that a work culture that encourages them to work autonomously is important to them, but 42 per cent say their current office does not have a culture that allows them to work flexibly outside of the office.

As well as giving staff the tools they need to work flexibly, for employees to feel that working autonomously is accepted in their workplace, there must be an internal cultural shift led by senior management. If employers and senior management promote autonomy and trust among employees, team members will begin to buy into these feelings and begin to incorporate them into their mind-set.

Jitesh Patel, chief executive, Peldon Rose, comments, ‘We know that in the workplace, employees look for relationships built on trust as it helps to create a supportive and safe environment. They also want a culture that fosters autonomy, allowing them to manage their own workflow and have the freedom to work where and when suits them.

‘As our survey reveals, there is a discrepancy between what keeps employees motivated at work versus the current provision. Workers are clearly stating that their relationships with their colleagues and bosses are what keeps them happiest at work and the office is where they are most productive, but 39 per cent say their company doesn’t foster a sense of camaraderie and 42 per cent say their office doesn’t have a culture that allows them to work flexibly.

‘For employers, this should be seen as an opportunity to create a culture that promotes trust and develops autonomous thinkers. When employees feel they have control over their work and have the ability to make choices on balancing their work and life, they will not only spend more time in the office, but when they are present they will be more productive, happier and engaged.’

Further reading on autonomy

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