How a Workplace Can Truly Win Employees’ Hearts

Anurag Mathur, CEO – Project & Development Services, JLL India


A survey-based report recently released by JLL confirms that Indian employees are the most engaged in the world. 69% of the Indian respondents feel ‘very engaged’ at work – way above the global average of 40%. China ranks second-highest with a 50% score, while Japan lags far behind with a mere 27% feeling engaged at work.

Basis these findings, here’s how India stacks up against the world:

Country Employees feeling ‘very engaged’ at work Employees feel they can work effectively Working in an open plan setup Office density
India 69% 74% 43% 52%
Hong Kong 23% 35% 70% 39%
Japan 27% 37% 60% 68%
Australia 38% 48% 51% 37%
China 36% 49% 20% 32%
Global 40% 51% 40% 45%

These findings led to an interesting question – what is the key ingredient for an effective and engaging workplace which can truly win the hearts of its employees? JLL dove deeper to analyse this, and found that the fairly simple answer to what contributes to a high employee engagement score– great workplace design – may only be superficial.

While 69% of the Indian employees feel ‘very engaged’ at work, only 43% currently working in an open-plan setup. Further, an interesting finding on Japan surfaced. Japan is a front-runner of the open workspaces concept in APAC, but it still reports only 27% employee engagement at work. This would indicate that it may not be only an open plan office setup that makes a workplace highly conducive for employee engagement. There has to be more to it.

To second this, we discovered that while China is second after India with 50% respondents reporting engagement at work, only 20% of its working population currently work in open plan setups. JLL also discovered that Chinese offices are the least crowded (32%) – half the density seen in Japan (68%).

This is certainly food for thought. Low office density means higher penetration of innovative facilities and amenities, which directly correlate to higher employee engagement and effectiveness. Matching this finding to the fact that close to 50% of the Chinese respondents report feel that their organisations let them work effectively, we can conclude that office density has a role to play in making workplaces effective and engaging. This is further vouchsafed by the fact that Japan reports 27% employee engagement with 68% office density.

Another interesting China-related finding was that Chinese employees are most willing to embrace change. 76% are willing to move to an open-plan layout in exchange for better workplace amenities, and 60% are willing to relinquish their personal workspaces in favour of hot-desking.

Australia presents an interesting contrast – though 51% of polled employees report being comfortable with working in open-plan offices, there is also some resistance for further change evident – nearly 1/3rd of employees are reluctant to shift to hot-desking. What can we learn from this?

Certainly, it could indicate that change management programmes are as important as change itself in driving employee effectiveness and engagement, especially in the more agile workplace environments of today where new office layouts and innovative space offerings are on the rise.

A key take-away: The question is no more related to which workplace design works best. The real question is how a workplace can create excellent Human Experiences and win the trust of employees to make them more receptive to change. Basically, it is all about creating workplaces that really work for their employees – and here, change management plays an inevitable role.