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Can a hip workplace get you the right people?

11 May 2015

From Google to Apple to Facebook, the big tech giants across the globe are known for their innovative, alternative workspaces, and more and more companies are replicating them.

But do these alternative workspaces have the desired impact on employee productivity, performance and retention? According to recruiting company Hays, the answer depends on an organisation’s culture.

“The technology sector is known for its cool, convention-defying offices,” explains Christine Wright, managing director of Hays Asia.

“For example Google in Zurich has a slide between floors, Facebook in Menlo Park has a sweet shop, and Twitter in San Francisco has a yoga room. These trendy tech businesses have attracted talent through their exciting work environments.”

While they may be luxurious places to work, those same workplaces in other sectors can become a distraction to employees and fail to have a positive impact, Wright says. “Architects may get an opportunity to design a ‘cool’ workspace, but do you really need bean bags, a rooftop bar, nap pods or chill zones to engage your organisation’s ‘big kids’ into better, more productive work?”

She continues, “When working with employers on their candidate attraction strategy, we remind them that their office environment is more than just the furnishings. It’s about communicating to candidates the reality of working at your organization.”

Hays points out that a rejuvenated environment can make a big difference to the way an organisation goes to work - provided it is reflective of an effective cultural change. However, when a new coat of paint is only covering the cracks in your people management strategy, the results won’t be so successful and turnover will not be reduced.

“It is your culture and your unique way of operating that will retain your top performers,” explains Wright. “So before signing up for an in-house bowling alley, it pays to remember that any environment needs to reflect the culture of the organisation, as well as enhance it.”

She adds, “After all, that’s what makes the pioneers in this area stand out – Google and Facebook had the culture before the office. A colourful, engaging, welcoming workplace is undoubtedly a fantastic HR tool, but it needs to ring true, or it will only ever be a new coat of paint.”

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