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Workplace Experience

Adopt a Performance-Driven Approach to Workplace Experience

Joe Di Noto

The old phrase ‘cash is king’ may no longer ring true. For a new generation of workers, workplace wellness has overtaken salary as an employment must-have. With Millenials poised to form 75% of the labor force by 2025, and Gen Z destined to succeed them, their priorities should be your priorities. However, simply relying on positive ‘vibes’, or assuming measures are effective is no longer sufficient. Instead, you will need to collect data that proves you are committed to continuously improving the workplace experience. The most effective way to achieve this is by embracing a performance-based approach. 

What are Workplace Experience and Workplace Wellness?

Workplace experience (WX) encompasses all aspects of the collective experience of employees in a given workplace. Factors that determine WX include organizational culture, technologies and tools, and facilities and space. Workplace wellness describes initiatives and programs that promote physical, mental, and emotional well-being among employees. These efforts work to create an environment that supports healthy behaviors, reduces stress, and enhances overall job satisfaction.

Younger Employees are Reshaping Expectations From the Workplace

Gen Z, born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s, are reshaping the workforce with their unique set of desires and expectations. Like Millennials before them, Gen Z are more connected, socially-conscious, and values-driven than their predecessors when it comes to their choice of workplace. These differences are manifesting in these groups’ expectations from their employers. 


More environmentally and socially-conscious. Millennials and Gen Z are more socially conscious than previous generations, and will choose workplaces that align with their values. For instance, a 2016 study revealed that 75% of Millennials would take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company, while research has shown that 43% of Gen Z believe a company’s mission, purpose, and values to be essential, compared to 39% of the overall population

Stronger emphasis on wellbeing. Research shows that 75% of Millennial employees have utilized mental health benefits offered by their employers, more than any other generation. When asked in a recent survey how employers could best manage staff burnout and stress, 27% of Gen Z participants chose mental health resources and a shorter working week, while only 5% selected financial compensation.

Environmental Metrics to Monitor for Improved Workplace Experience

While most businesses have embraced digital transformation and data-driven decision making across many operational domains, discussions around workplace experience are often relegated to the whims or subjective preferences of their executive sponsors. 

This need no longer be the case. By compiling empirical data on important environmental metrics, employers can not only determine which issues need fixing, but prove the effectiveness of their efforts to investors and staff. Each of the metrics listed below have critical impacts on the experience of occupants in the workplace. 

Indoor Air Quality Metrics

Indoor air quality is vital to the health and wellbeing of employees. High levels of CO2, PM2.5 or TVOCs can lead to persistent cold-like symptoms, damage to the nervous system, or even cancer. A recent study has shown that 74% of employees are concerned with their workplace air quality, while other research has proven that improved ventilation rates can reduce absenteeism by 35% and boost workplace performance by 10%. 

The pandemic has also drastically altered the ways employees think about IAQ, leading to persistent reluctance to return to communal workplaces. One survey found that 82% of millennials would feel safer returning to the office if real-time IAQ information was provided. 

Noise Levels

Workplace noise can stem from a huge variety of sources, from construction work and traffic outside the office, to chatter and the use of equipment within. Excessive noise can disrupt concentration, impair communication, and increase stress levels, while a quiet working environment promotes focus, feeling of calm, and increased productivity. A Swedish study found that just 40 decibels of background noise - the level present in a typical office setting - had detrimental effects on cognition. Monitoring interior and exterior noise in the office allows you to accurately assess the burden they may represent for your staff, along with the efficacy of the noise reduction strategies you implement.


Adequate lighting enhances productivity, reduces eye strain, and boosts mood, while a lack of natural light sources or excess of blue light can lead to insomnia and fatigue. One recent Cornell study found that employees exposed to natural light in the office experienced an 84% decrease in headaches, blurred vision, and eye strain. Monitoring exposure to natural and blue light in the workplace allows you to detect problems in this domain.

Thermal Comfort

Human bodies function optimally within a relatively small range of temperatures, which workplaces must adhere to if they are to provide an acceptable quality of WX. Failure to do so can result in fatigue, irritability, and decreased productivity. Thermal comfort, comprising dry-bulb temperature and relative humidity, is an environmental metric used to establish acceptable temperatures indoors. Monitoring thermal comfort allows you to make informed adjustments to your thermostat, or increase ventilation where appropriate. 

Retaining Talent by Adopting a Performance-Based Approach to Workplace Experience

Data is only as useful as your ability to act on it. Once you’ve started collecting information on the key WX metrics described in the previous section, you can take data-driven steps to address issues. These include:

IAQ Monitoring, Thermal Comfort, and Building Automation

Issues such as high levels of PM2.5, CO2, or TVOCs can be detected through continuous IAQ monitoring, and addressed with increased ventilation or upgrading your HVAC. Using a building automation system (BAS), your HVAC system can be programmed to increase or decrease ventilation in response to spikes in these parameters, potentially saving a lot of time, money, and energy. One recent study showed that using BAS to respond to CO2 could reduce HVAC energy expenditure by 70%. 

Similarly, thermal comfort monitoring data can be leveraged in many ways. Rather than simply relying on personal whim regarding temperature, standards can be implemented that adhere to the OSHA recommended 30-60% humidity and 68-76°F temperature range for office buildings. Conditions of thermal comfort are only met when 80% of occupants are satisfied with temperature and humidity, so surveys can also be employed to determine whether these measures are working. If some employees still aren’t happy, you can provide warmer clothing in cold weather, or loosen clothing policies during the summer months.

As with IAQ, BAS is an effective means of automating thermal comfort. HVAC systems can be programmed to respond to elevated humidity or temperature, ensuring that your office always remains within acceptable ranges. 

Occupancy and Space Optimization

Overcrowding can have a severely detrimental effect on WX, leading to elevated CO2 levels and higher rates of viral spread. Research also shows that overcrowded office conditions result in decreased morale and productivity in employees. Monitoring occupancy reveals traffic-heavy areas in your workplace, so you can better optimize the use of your space. If certain spaces are over congested, you may consider establishing an occupancy limit, staggering shifts, or hiring out another space.  

WX and IWMS Software

A dedicated workplace experience software tool grants you a bird’s eye view over how your employees interact with your business, while allowing them greater ease of access to vital information and facilitating smoother communication. This lets you analyze engagement levels and other metrics to determine which elements are working and which ones aren’t. Various solutions in this space have been introduced – including from Lattice, Culture Amp, and Zendesk

Integrated workplace management systems (IMWS) are softwares that allow companies to manage resources such as capital, assets, space allocation and maintenance on a single platform. Using these systems, you can more efficiently handle elements of WX such as overcrowding, waste disposal, and interdepartmental communication, leading to a more streamlined WX for your employees. 

Surveys and Feedback Systems

Surveys and feedback systems are one of the oldest performance-based measures for improving workplace experience, and this is because of how effective they are. Digital survey tools and any-time feedback forms allow you to collect timely and anonymous information from staff, and to easily collate and gain insights from the data.  

Lighting and Acoustics

Once you have lighting and noise monitoring in place, it is time to use the data to improve WX in these areas. A wellness-driven design approach to lighting involves facilitating access to natural light, while reducing artificial light exposure. The first can be achieved by installing more windows or skylights, or by simply hanging more mirrors around the office. You can decrease blue light exposure by providing blue light filters, lowering computer brightness at night, and encouraging screen breaks.

In turn, your acoustic monitors can prompt you to incorporate noise reduction solutions, such as sound proofing, carpeting to dampen footfall, acoustic pods, or noise canceling headphones.

Good Vibes Only Get You So Far

A performance-based approach to workplace wellness is essential for gaining the trust and confidence of today’s workforce. Using IAQ monitors, WX software, feedback systems, and BAS, employers can identify specific issues, make data-driven decisions, and implement targeted interventions. This approach not only enhances employee well-being and productivity but also allows companies to showcase their commitment to workplace wellness in ESG reports, impressing clients and employees alike. Embracing a data-driven approach to workplace wellness is not only vital for attracting young talent, but for the overall success and sustainability of organizations in the modern era.

Addressing IAQ issues improves the workplace experience, allows employees to flourish, and drives better productivity and business outcomes for companies. Take a closer look and learn more in our eBook, IAQ for Healthy Workplaces: A Complete and Practical Guide:How-to-Leverage-Air-Quality-Monitoring-to-Upgrade-the-Workplace-Experience-1