Employee brainstorming with post-its in the office building

The role of the Internet of Things in attracting and retaining talent

Real estate and facility managers are focusing less on the usual business drivers such as cost efficiency and fixating on the fact that their employees are actually their most valuable resource. Employees are a huge contributing factor within the organization and are an important driver for innovation. The demand is increasing from workforces and new generations of employees for agile and attractive workplaces. Hence, organizations should continuously adjust their workplace strategy in order to attract and retain employees that fit their organization. A potential war for talent is lurking!

How to increase employee engagement

Employee engagement, empowerment and fulfillment are the three main drivers in the Human Experience Model according to Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL). From these three drivers, employee engagement is perceived as the main influencing factor. How an employee experiences the work environment is influencing employee engagement and plays an important role in the employee’s selection of an employer or organization. The introduction of new workplace concepts including optimizing comfort, occupancy, quality of air, acoustics and light enables employees to feel engaged and connected to their work and the organization. Engaged employees are more focused, energetic and committed to contributing to the objectives of their organization.

The number of employees that feel engaged in their work and work environment on a global scale has decreased slightly from 65% to 63% according to Aon’s 2017 Trends in Global Employee Engagement report. Also, a recent global survey by JLL discovered that approximately 70% of the employees questioned said that happiness at work is the most important factor for an enjoyablec work experience. This provides challenges for real estate and facility managers who play a significant role in workplace design and helping to deliver a high quality workplace experience for employees. However, how can they increase employee engagement, attract, and retain talent and what is the role technology plays in all that?

The Internet of Things and the development of Smart and Learning Buildings might be a very welcome change that contributes to improved employee engagement. Measuring occupancy, quality of air, acoustics, light and even employee happiness through smart technology (i.e. using sensors) can contribute to optimizing the workplace, employee engagement and the organizational objectives. As mentioned in my previous blog, smart buildings are evolving to the next level and become “learning” buildings. ”Machine learning” enables buildings to learn and make predictions from collected measurements and data. In this way, they become ”Learning” buildings.

The ability to use smart solutions and rate buildings, workplaces and employees on categories such as mind, comfort, occupancy, fitness, light, nourishment, water, air and sound is increasing. This helps us to improve our buildings and workplaces. In addition, it enables us to learn and make predictions from data analysis on employee behavior, the performance and state of our workplaces and employee preferences regarding the workplace environment. It provides real estate and facility managers the tools to advise and coach their employees through smart devices concerning the utilization of specific workplaces - concerning light, sound, comfort, occupancy and quality of air. Employees will feel more engaged, happier, and more productive, therefore contributing to organizational objectives.

5 frequently asked questions about corporate real estate and facility management.

Start developing use cases and business cases

The three finalists of the winning workplace award 2017 in the Netherlands – VGZ, Plantronics and Enexis – all set employee engagement as one of their priorities in their workplace strategy. They have all worked closely together with their employees in developing their workplace strategy. In addition, they use technology to measure factors such as space occupancy, employee happiness and fitness, and the quality of air, sound and light. On top of that, they use the data from these measurements to improve their workplaces. For example, at the new Plantronics office walls, floors and ceilings are made of noise absorbing materials along with speakers and microphones being integrated in the walls and ceilings to conceal surrounding noise based on noise masking technology. Besides using technology based on IoT, these winning example organizations have one other important factor in common: they started their smart journey using technology with developing use cases and business cases related to their business driver to create an agile, attractive and healthy workplace.

Improving workplaces, employee engagement and wellness requires technology and metrics in order to provide information and feedback for facility managers, real estate managers and employees so that workplace strategy objectives can be achieved.. Real estate and facility managers will need to provide technology-enabled workplace solutions that will allow greater agility and flexibility for both the organization and the employee, as well as long-term workplace effectiveness. Real estate and facility managers will have to determine what they want to measure, how to measure this and what the real value of these measurements will be. Just as the three finalists of the winning workplace award and increasingly more organizations are doing, they will have to determine their use cases and establish their business case in using the Internet of Things to create attractive and healthy workplaces. At the end of the day, they may be victorious in the War for Talent.

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