Your workplace handbook to attract and retain talent

You’ve probably heard of term the Great Upgrade, which refers to people’s choice to leave their jobs for a better one. Better pay, better work-life balance, and better professional development all chief among a long list of reasons. But there’s also another important upgrade that’s got folks moving jobs–maybe even considering you as their next employer: the workplace upgrade.

In this ebook, we’ll outline how HR teams can use the physical workplace as a powerful tool to attract and retain talent. This includes how to create a great on-site candidate experience, from the interview stage to onboarding and beyond. We’ll also cover how the workplace can help to show off your company culture and banish the dreaded employee burnout.

Read on to learn:

What is the value of the workplace?
How the workplace can help create a great candidate experience
How HR can use the workplace to banish employee burnout

1. What is the value of the workplace?

The workplace is no longer just a place where people work. Nowadays, the workplace is a hub for connection, collaboration, and innovation. It’s a place where your people can see each other in person again, either in a hybrid work model or 100% on-site.

And just like a hotel or Airbnb, the design of your workplace can help make or break people’s overall experience and opinion of your business. Think office location, desk amenities, natural light, and on-site meals as great examples.

Creating a workplace that top talent want to visit and be a part of takes time, planning, and the right tools. To get started, let’s take a look at 5 key values of the workplace and how it can attract talent your way:

1 – It drives a sense of purpose

Creating a workplace that supports a sense of purpose and achievement is crucial. Being physically around coworkers who are working towards a common goal reinforces individual purpose within your organization. People are able to observe the actions of others and feel like they’re contributing to something. They are able to celebrate wins together. Ensuring your physical workplace supports this level of teamwork and interaction will help drive people’s purpose and engagement. With that comes lower turnover, longer tenures, and a greater willingness to recommend the company to others. An ultimate win.

2 – It instills a sense of belonging

Belonging refers to someone’s feeling of acceptance within a group or organization. It’s something that can be hard to build, especially over Zoom and Slack when new hires haven’t met any of their coworkers in-person. In fact, a recent study by BetterUp shows that remote workers have one fewer work friend on average than their onsite colleagues. They also feel up to 19% less of a sense of belonging than their onsite and hybrid coworkers.

As candidates join your organization and visit your office, they will undoubtedly build connections with people which will increase their sense of belonging. Ultimately, this increases their enjoyment at your organization and will encourage them to stay.

3 – It fosters friendships and real connections

According to a recent study, 37% of employees stated connection with coworkers was the top reason why they chose to work from the office. For new talent (especially younger folks), working from a physical workplace provides the opportunity to make new friends and increase their social capital.

4 – It improves productivity

There’s no denying that people can be productive from anywhere. 67% of people who worked from home reported they felt more productive there than in an office—but that’s not true for everyone. There are elements of the physical workplace that improves productivity, such as information sharing and accessibility. In fact, 42% of employees say that the ability to access information quickly and easily has the greatest impact on their productivity levels.

5 – It helps build confidence

While some new hires have experienced successful onboarding remotely, you can never fully eradicate every feeling of nervousness or uncertainty as you start out in a new job.

Being together in an office, even only part-time as part of your hybrid work model, helps create the opportunity for new hires to ask questions, learn through osmosis, and feel more confident in their role.

It’s true, the value of the workplace has changed. It’s now a space for everything you might not get at home or through virtual meetings–collaboration, creativity, productivity, culture, and celebration. When you create a space that supports all of the above, you’ll actually get employees excited to choose the office over working from home.

"Despite all of the changes that the workplace has gone through over the past two years, it is crystal clear that the physical workplace still has a purpose... the workplace will continue to be a space for people to come together: to meet, to ideate, to socialize, to brainstorm, to build connections, to get work done."

Chief People Officer at Envoy

2. How the workplace can help create a great candidate experience

Understanding your workplace’s values will help you harness its power to attract the very best people for your business. In this chapter, we’ll cover how to use your workplace as your much-needed hook to get potential candidates wanting more—including tips for how to create a wow-worthy experience before they even walk through your doors.

Benefits of interviewing on-site

Interviewing candidates remotely works well for early stage discussions. However, when you think there’s a good match, scheduling any following conversations on-site can be helpful–such as a panel interview or a final leadership conversation. This way you can sell candidates the opportunity whilst getting them excited about the working environment. Here are 4 benefits of interviewing on-site.

Culture fit

For candidates, gauging the culture of the work environment and peers is critical. For hiring managers, retaining employees means determining who’s a good fit for the team. If the connection isn’t mutual, chances are it won’t last.

Get candidates excited to work there

The same way one Zoom call can blur into the next, so can multiple interviews–both for the interviewer and candidate. Meeting on-site for the interview will help both parties have a more productive and authentic conversation. It’s also easier to make an impactful first impression.

Accurate skills evaluation

There are advantages to assessing both hard and soft skills in-person as opposed to virtually. For example, an in-person technical skill test can help represent a candidate’s performance under pressure. Body language plays a huge role in interpersonal skills, which can be crucial for client-facing or senior leadership positions.

Quicker hiring decisions

Many companies have added in stages into their interview process to get a better idea of who somebody is through Zoom. The problem is, a slow and drawn out interview process could be a red flag for a candidate. Getting them on-site will help you evaluate the person quickly, enabling you to make an offer quicker and shorten the overall process.

How to create a smooth on-site candidate experience in 4 easy steps

The experience a candidate has during the interview process can be make or break when it comes to accepting the offer. If the interview experience feels unorganized and chaotic, it can reflect poorly on how someone feels about your organization. So it’s important to get it right. Let’s look at 4 ways to make a candidate experience on-site memorable for them, and you:

1 – Uplevel the welcome experience with visitor registration technology

The on-site candidate experience begins the moment they’re invited to your workplace. Offering a seamless welcome experience to interviewing candidates helps them feel invested and excited about your organization from the very beginning. Investing in a visitor registration solution will set you up to create a visitor experience that:

  • Gets candidates prepared and excited to come on-site. Before agreeing to go on-site, interviewees want to know details about their visit. Giving them all the information they need beforehand helps them feel confident and gives them the mental space to concentrate on the interview itself.
  • Reduces hassle. Simplifying on-site registration means candidates can focus on the purpose of their visit. What’s more, they’ll appreciate a streamlined process without distraction–helping you to better judge their suitability for the role.
  • Makes a great first impression. With a polished welcome to the workplace, you can directly impact how candidates view your organization and brand. This can influence how they feel about working with you, as well as how they talk to others about your organization and their experience.
  • Saves you time. Integrating with other solutions you have in your organization will save you time by automatically inviting the candidate when they move onto the on-site stage. For HR, integrations with recruiting solutions such as Greenhouse and Goodtime help make the process smooth and efficient.

2 – Make candidates feel safe and secure in your workplace

Making your candidates feel welcome is only half the job. You must also ensure they feel safe in your workplace.

Visitor screening allows your organization to set specific criteria for candidates coming on-site. This includes making sure they are healthy and safe by providing their health verification. You can also screen against unwanted guests to keep everyone safe. Look for features like blocklists, ID scanning, and visitor badge printing to ensure you protect your team and your property.

“Like any global media news organizations, not everyone in the world agrees with our stories and the news that we find truthful. But with Envoy, we know if a guest is expected and can flag someone if they aren’t… The blocklist feature gives me peace of mind.”

SVP of Global Real Estate, Office Services and Security at Buzzfeed

Read the case study

3 – Notify employees of candidate’s arrival

Gone are the days of phoning someone at their desk to notify them that their candidate is waiting in the lobby. Today’s world is smarter and faster.

You’ll want to find a visitor registration solution that can automatically notify employees when their guest arrives. Bonus points if they integrate with the communication tools that your team already relies on, like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or email. That way, candidates don’t have long to wait before their interviewer comes to collect them from the lobby. Plus, this helps interviewers put a name and face to who they’re about to greet.

4 – Book a room to conduct the interview

As your workplace gets busier, so do your meeting rooms. According to a 2021 survey, 70% of all meetings are now booked during the middle of the week, as more people return to the office. What’s more, most meeting rooms are booked ad hoc.

Using a meeting room scheduling software will help your employees easily find and book a room in advance. That way, when candidates arrive on-site for their interview, they’re able to go to the relevant meeting room without delay.

When candidates leave the workplace after their interview, you want them to have a positive view of your organization. You can’t control the interview itself, but you can help to create an experience that makes you stand out to each candidate that visits you on-site.

"If you’re interviewing heavily, even when you’re deeply familiar with the candidate’s background, it’s understandably easy to forget who you’re about to meet with. The Envoy notifications help you remember people’s names just at the time you need it the most, keeping everything moving along effortlessly."

Office Coordinator, Asana

Read the case study

3. How the workplace can help show off your company culture

As much as you’re seeking the best candidates for available positions, quality talent are also doing research of their own. One key element they’re looking out for is company culture, and if your organization is somewhere they can see themselves grow. In this chapter, we’ll discuss how you can use the workplace to positively reflect your company’s culture to potential employees. A clue: it’s not all ping pong tables, green plants, and bottomless beer taps. But before we dive in, let’s start with defining company culture.

What is company culture?

Company culture is how your people do their jobs in the workplace. It’s made up of systems, processes, and behaviors—and it impacts the way people feel about the company’s mission and the work they do. This includes their behavior in the workplace, how they interact with one another, and the shared values they believe in. When you think of company culture, think of it as the personality of your business.

Defining your company’s culture isn’t a one-time thing. It’s something workplace and HR leaders spend a long time building and iterating on to reflect their organization’s journey and goals. It’s also something that’s become drastically more important for people as they look for jobs.

With company culture being the top reason your talent is leaving your organization, it’s important you understand how to get it right. Now let’s look at how the physical workplace can benefit your company culture as you continue to build it.

How the workplace can help you improve your company culture

The physical workplace is a great tool for showcasing your company culture. For example, Google is renowned for their offices. Basically a huge playground for adults, Google’s office reflects their company culture of dreaming big and getting creative. They have bold colors, nap pods, massage rooms, and free gourmet meals. The physical workplace not only entices talent to want to work there, but also reflects how Google employees feel about working at Google: they have fun.

You don’t need the mega-budget to replicate offices like Google, but it’s important not to underestimate the power of your workplace on culture. Here are some ways your physical workplace can help foster a company culture that attracts and retains talent:

Relationship-building. When coworkers can come into the office to build relationships with teammates, it fosters a culture of collaboration. Back to one of the key benefits of the workplace above, it also allows folks to connect and feel as though they belong. The more time they choose to spend in the physical workplace can have a positive effect on company culture.

Team morale. If teamwork and collaboration sit at the core of your company culture, then designing your workspace to have room for people to get together is crucial. Supporting interactions in the workplace will go a long way in boosting morale and making your employees feel connected to your company’s culture.

Flexibility. Giving employees control of their own schedules is empowering and motivating. Since they can intentionally choose when they work remote and on-site, they’re more likely to come to the office engaged and ready to contribute to the company’s mission and culture.

Social activities. The number one benefit of working from the office, according to employees, is socializing with work friends. People get excited to go to the workplace when they think of the fun, impromptu social interactions that they could have with colleagues. For future talent, this can be a major attraction tool as they consider making new friends at work.

The reality is, you don’t have to fill your workplace with nap pods, massage tables, and free meals to boost your company culture. When it comes to attracting and retaining the right people, authenticity is key. Making some simple changes to improve your workplace will work wonders for your organizational culture.

6 tips on how to design your workplace to let your company values shine

Your candidates (and employees) want to feel connected with your company’s values when they visit the office. As each person enters the lobby, they should get a feel for what your organization represents: your mission, idea, and brand. Remember, company values define what you stand for–it’s therefore important that your workplace represents that as closely as possible. Here are six tips for how you might align your physical workplace with your company values to wow top talent:

Show off your brand

Make it clear whose lobby your candidates are in by incorporating your brand’s colors or adding design elements that show off your company’s values. For example, at their headquarters in San Francisco, Samsara’s front desk looks sleek and streamlined, like its brand. They’ve incorporated a few stand-out features, including an LED sign of the company’s name.

Make sure it’s clutter free

Treat your lobby like you would your home when you have guests over. A clean, well-organized lobby reflects well on your company as a whole. On the flip side, a messy, disorganized space can leave a bad first impression. Set the right tone by tidying up the lobby every day—or multiple times a day, if necessary.

Upgrade your waiting area

The lobby is the very first place your candidates will walk into. So it shouldn’t be an afterthought. Beyond comfortable seating, provide guests with refreshments, Wi-Fi, and company swag to take home. Finally, don’t underestimate the importance good lighting can have on creating a welcoming environment–nobody wants to wait in a dingy and dark room.

Impress guests with the best technology

Digitizing the sign-in experience for your guests will not only impress them as they walk through the doors, but it’ll also make them feel at ease in your workplace. Impress candidates with a sleek iPad (or two) at reception, where they can quickly enter all the information your organization needs without hassle. This shows off your company values by immediately making visitors feel welcome in your workplace and confident that your tech is up-to-date.

Demonstrate sustainability

Talent–especially younger talent–now consider a company’s ESG (environment, social, and governance) values heavily when choosing their next job. In fact, 34% of UK workers would refuse a job offer if they didn’t align with the company’s environmental values. Making it clear to candidates on-site that you value the environment and work in a sustainable way is important. Ensure you have recycling bins around the office and, to the point above, go digital with any necessary paperwork.

Balance work space with social space

Your social space is an important part of reflecting your company values. It might be as simple as a kitchen area with sufficient amenities to support your workers getting through the day. It could be a lounge area with couches. Whatever your choice and budget, ensure it reflects your company values.

Retaining your best employees and keeping them feeling fresh and energized for work is important for business performance, employee happiness, and company culture.

4. How HR can use the workplace to banish employee burnout

If you’ve invested all this time into getting candidates through the door and accepting jobs, then equal time and effort should go to retaining your people as well. In this chapter, we’ll look at how the workplace can help you retain top talent–specifically by banishing employee burnout.

What is employee burnout?

Employee burnout is a type of stress caused by someone’s role and responsibilities at work. It includes physical and emotional exhaustion that leads to feeling negative towards your job and a lack of accomplishment and identity in your role. Burnout takes a toll on mental health and is a leading reason people quit their jobs. Eventually, employee burnout drives your talent away. It could also deter future talent from joining due to poor Glassdoor reviews.

3 ways your workplace can banish burnout and help you retain your finest folks

Retaining your best employees and keeping them feeling fresh and energized for work is important for business performance, employee happiness, and company culture. But how do you do it? You can avoid employee burnout by using your workplace to:

1. Improve the onboarding process

As a HR leader, you know that creating a powerful hiring journey means you must design the experience in a way that will engage your new hires, set clear expectations, and welcome them into your organization. According to a survey of 1000 employees, only 12% believe their onboarding experience was effective in their company. An effective onboarding process not only helps you get ahead of burnout, it also:

  • Provides an opportunity to meet and bond with new teammates in person. New hires want to make friends and meet their teammates in person. While onboarding should be a professional and structured process, it’s important to build in time for folks to get to know each other.
  • Drives belonging and commitment. According to an onboarding survey on Glassdoor, employees who rated their onboarding process as effective were 18 times more likely to feel highly committed to their organization. Being together in-person drives connection, fosters inclusivity, and helps to build loyalty to their new company.
  • Allows for impromptu questions. As you train up your new hires, they’ll undoubtedly have questions. While Slack and Zoom can offer effective ways of firing questions over in a remote setting, you can’t beat in-person communication (especially for quieter or more introverted folks).

2. Help close the skills gap via in-person training

As HR managers, you know that the more skilled a person is for their role, the more capable they are to handle stress and avoid burnout. But it’s a challenging market: according to a study from Gartner, 58% of the workforce needs new skills to get their jobs done.

Leaders especially must be supported to upskill and reskill. Good leadership is a crucial way to retain your talent, and with 82% of people leaving their job due to a bad manager, it’s a worthy investment. Providing in-person training is a great way to use your workplace to engage with your leaders. Leaders who are on-site together are able to create a community of development, share tips and best practices with other leaders, and build confidence. They are then in a better position to develop and upskill their teams and notice signs of burnout before it’s too late.

But it’s not just leaders who need opportunities to learn. Skills training is one of the top perks younger workers look for in a new job. In fact, according to a 2021 Gallup survey, 66% of workers ages 18-24 ranked learning new skills as the third-most important perk when evaluating new job opportunities. Providing in-person learning and development (L&D) opportunities will help younger talent understand the organization better, gain new skills, and encourage them to be more involved with their coworkers.

3. Encourage connection and engagement

In-person social events can have a huge impact on promoting connection and balance in the workplace. As HR managers, promoting time for team lunches, happy hours, and movie nights will not only entice people to the office, but also reinforce the need for your employees to take a break. You can also design your workplace to help draw the line between work and play. Furniture and amenities, like standing desks, quiet pods, and collaboration areas will help folks get in the zone for their work. Increased productivity and engagement results in less burnout. Thinking about how your workplace can dilute stress is also helpful. Examples include soft music, social space, and having games in the office.