Office Focus: The Leesman Index’s latest report on employee experience

The organisation behind the Leesman Index, the world’s largest staff experience benchmark database, has published a report looking at what makes the best workplaces distinctive

Edited by Cathy Hayward

Leesman works globally helping business leaders and their design teams understand how workplaces support individual and organisational performance. It does so by examining what employees are doing and how well each of the activities they undertake as part of their role is supported by the physical, virtual and social infrastructures on offer. The results are then analysed against the Leesman Index, a worldwide benchmark that calculates the design impact these workplaces have on an employee’s overall experience, from their perception of personal productivity and level of enjoyment to their pride in the workspace.

Leesman’s report summarises the lessons from the leaders in employee workplace experienceLeesman’s report summarises the lessons from the leaders in employee workplace experience

To date, the index houses more than 557,959 employee responses from 3,933 buildings in 92 countries. Some 59.2% say their workplace contributes to a sense of community; 59.3% agree that theirs creates an enjoyable environment to work in; and 61.1% think it enables them to work productively.

JTI is one of the 13 organisations that were awarded the Leesman+ certification in 2018JTI is one of the 13 organisations that were awarded the Leesman+ certification in 2018

If those figures are reversed, at least two-fifths of the workforce are being let down in some way, shape or form. However, an elite group of employers buck this trend by delivering superb environments that brilliantly support the employee experience. This is the Leesman+ collective.

The Elite Leesman+ EmployersThe Elite Leesman+ Employers

Out of the 971 workplaces surveyed in 2018, 13 organisations were awarded Leesman+ certification across 28 workplaces dotted all over the world, and their outstanding achievements are investigated and celebrated in The World’s Best Workplaces 2018 report. These organisations have challenged the often-recycled idea that ‘work is a thing you do, not a place you go’ by creating a series of work destinations where employees do want to go. So – from Bogotá to Boston, Poland to Pakistan, the United Kingdom to the United States – what does the data reveal these workplaces have in common?

  • Workplaces that have been designed in tune with employee sentiment deliver an upswing in pride, with 80.2% of employees in a Leesman+ building proud to host visitors, compared to 53.1% globally. There is a commonly held belief that those that experience a certain level of admiration derived from the efforts and achievements of their employer are more likely to become brand ambassadors for the company in question.
  • There is a large positive percentage point difference in employee satisfaction when it comes to the ‘variety of different types of workspace’ on offer in the Leesman+ spaces: 86.5% compared to 33.7% across the global database. The Leesman+ spaces deliver an array of work environments designed to support the multitude of activities being undertaken by a workforce. This suggests that variety is a key ingredient to delivering a high performance workplace.
  • The best workplaces in the world are also more likely to provide a greater proportion of ‘informal work areas’ and ‘breakout zones’. Globally, only 39.2% of employees are satisfied with the availability of these types of settings, compared to 70.3% in the certified workplaces.
  • It’s important to note, however, that the Leesman+ spaces do not overbake the ‘collaborative’ at the expense of the ‘concentrative’. Most (93.2%) employees in these spaces feel supported when it comes to conducting individual routine tasks and focussed work. This suggests these organisations recognise the importance of offering both collaborative and concentrative zones, the ratio of which is case-specific. The Leesman+ collective proves this is dependent on the nature of the organisation and the needs of the workforce.
  • When looking at the activities employees cite as important to them in their work, the largest differences between Leesman+ employees and the rest concern ‘thinking/creative thinking’ and ‘relaxing/taking a break’. The world’s highest-performing workplaces support people in their efforts to think creatively. From this, one could deduce that these employers recognise that relaxing is a necessary step in that direction. In fact, satisfaction levels regarding the physical features that support ‘thinking/creative thinking’ and ‘relaxing/taking a break’ present the largest gap between the Leesman+ class and the global average, at 21.4% and 20.7% respectively.
  • All 28 workspaces awarded the 2018 Leesman+ certification predominantly feature open-plan concepts where the majority of staff work in a space that is not a shared or enclosed office. This disproves common misconceptions that open environments diminish the employee experience. Managing noise levels in open-plan workspaces has historically been considered a challenge, yet the workplace that reports the highest satisfaction with noise levels in the 2018 Leesman+ group is home to more than 1,000 staff . With careful and clever planning, then, the acoustic landscape in these environments doesn’t necessarily have to present a barrier to a good experience.

The Leesman+ spaces provide responsive, participatory work experiences that respect and support employees in the role they are employed to do. Ultimately, though, the Leesman+ companies are doing more to understand their employees. To that end, they are adopting a user-centric, evidence-based approach to decision-making, to ensure the physical, virtual and social building blocks provide the best possible foundation to a frictionless day at work for the people who matter most.


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