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3 February 2017 | Marino Donati

Two-thirds of knowledge workers told a survey they left their last role because their workplace was not optimised for them.


A study commissioned by Sodexo, in partnership with Quora Consulting, examines factors affecting productivity, engagement and retention in the knowledge worker sector.


Sodexo says the findings of the study, Creating a workplace that maximises productivity, are a wake-up call for organisations not to put cosmetic design over substance.


In the study of 2,800 knowledge workers, 67 per cent admit they left their last role because the workplace was not optimised for them.


Sixty-nine per cent say their workplace design directly impacted on their effectiveness – citing office noise, bad lighting and access to quiet space all as crucial factors.


More than half (51 per cent) claim that cutting unnecessary noise was the most important way to improve effectiveness. Lack of access to daylight and good lighting is cited by just under a half of respondents as a major disruptive factor. A third (35 per cent) say access to quiet space is key to increasing productivity.


More than half of those questioned (53 per cent) say the quality of food is important, but only a third (37 per cent) feel well catered for.


Just over a third (36 per cent) think their organisation cares about their well-being and just under half (48 per cent) trust their managers’ to ‘do the right thing’ by them, says the study.


Sodexo said that knowledge workers represented 60 per cent of the overall labour force in the UK, and were the single fastest-growing sector. It added that it was essential for organisations that relied on this group of workers to consider their unique needs.


Martin Boden, managing director, UK corporate services for Sodexo, said the study gives an insight into the barriers affecting the productivity, engagement and retention of employees in the knowledge sector, within the context of a rapidly ageing and retiring workforce, shortage of new talent and the need to address gender imbalances across the industry.


“The findings clearly demonstrate that seemingly simple factors are pivotal in workplace design, with noise, lighting and nutrition playing a far greater role in impacting productivity than more creative workplace solutions and office perks,” said Boden.


“Sodexo is committed to providing solutions that impact the performance of organisations by making positive impacts to the lives of employees. It is clear that collectively, our industry has to work more closely and collaboratively to meet the needs and expectations of knowledge workers.”


The report also contains recommendations on how employers can optimise their organisation to increase productivity, engagement and retention.