By Daniel Hunter

Small business bosses were warned to make better use of their office and workplace facilities, or face difficulty recruiting and retaining staff.

The caution, from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), comes as new research from the organisation highlights that more than a third (35%) of employees working for small businesses want upgrades to the properties they work in.

For recruitment, the issue of unsatisfactory offices and workplaces is shown to be a serious one, given that more than nine tenths (93%) of employees of small businesses who work indoors say that the property plays a major role in whether or not they accept a new job. In fact, when asked to compare it to other factors, only ‘pay’ and ‘people’ are shown to be more important — with the office or workplace outranking ‘progression opportunities’ (40%), ‘company culture’ (36%) and ‘benefits’ such as gym membership (22%).

On a national scale across sectors, RICS’ research also highlights that high-quality offices and workplace facilities have a role to play in retaining key members of staff. Four fifths (80%) of the survey respondents said that their workplace has a bearing on whether or not they’ll stay in their current job, while a further 88% said it had an impact on overall job satisfaction.

Paul Bagust, Director of UK Commercial Property at RICS, said: “With numerous industries currently fighting a war for talent, capable staff and skilled new joiners are like gold-dust for many companies. On that basis, businesses should be doing everything possible to recruit and retain the best people.

“It’s disappointing, therefore, that many employers seem to be under-estimating — or perhaps not realising — the power of property in motivating, attracting and keeping staff. A well-constructed, designed and utilised office or workplace can pay huge dividends for the business that inhabits it.”

Guy Stallard, Head of Facilities at KPMG said: “The role of the physical workplace in employment is imperative to staff recruitment, motivation and retention. These findings reinforce the fact that, surprisingly, many companies are still not doing enough to improve their employees’ surroundings despite demand. While pay is of paramount importance — and our fight to implement the Living Wage nationally continues — clean, comfortable and inspiring spaces make for more engaged employees in an environment where flexible working is becoming the norm, adding to the overall value of a company.”

For any company looking to improve its office or workplace, the research reveals the top 10 most desirable traits nationally, based on the sample of 1,000 UK employees:

1. Lots of natural light (63%)
2. Good heating / ventilation (62%)
3. Regular cleaning (52%)
4. Good kitchen facilities (44%)
5. Good security (38%)
6. A café/bar/restaurant on site (31%)
7. Space to work away from desk (26%)
8. A gym on site (15%)
9. Good colour scheme (13%)
10. High ceilings (13%)