Soft Services – what are they & why do they matter?
Soft services encompass a range of areas including catering, cleaning, environmental management, front of house, site support services, helpdesk, landscaping, pest control and security services. Soft services affect an organisation by affecting productivity, job satisfaction and by extension workplace culture. Employee satisfaction and wellbeing has come under scrutiny since the pandemic; as a result, employers are looking at ways to show that they are supporting employee wellbeing. Although soft services such as landscaping may seem superfluous, employee well-being is supported by access to the natural environment. Making the workplace a pleasant place to be makes coming to work more appealing. Consequently, soft services are essential for creating a clean, pleasant, well-run workplace where employees have access to necessities like food, a clean work environment and have the necessary support services allowing them to focus on their work.
What can employers do to help employees?
In a recent LinkedIn poll, we asked what would help bring employees back to the workplace more regularly. The four choices that were given were food / catering, a clean workplace, site support services and front of house services. 61% of respondents voted for food / catering, followed by site support services (26%) and a clean workplace (10%). Food is a reliable benefit to offer employees for a few reasons including that decent food can support employee’s wellbeing by encouraging healthy eating habits. This influences company performance. Food is useful for boosting morale and helps to build company culture. Culture has been hard hit by remote and hybrid working. Consequently, having the time and space to reconnect with colleagues or get to know new colleagues can be facilitated by offering food at work and helps towards rebuilding company culture. Creative ways of offering food at work can be beneficial, for example: encouraging team bonding by getting people involved in the making of their food (bread making, learning how to make sushi or how to ice cupcakes, etc.). Additionally, creating a sense of occasion with food at work gives people something to look forward to such as a mobile lunch truck offering freshly prepared food.
The second most popular choice in our LinkedIn poll that is likely to make people return to the workplace more regularly is site support services. Site support personnel make your workplace run smoothly and will carry out the small jobs that make a noticeable difference to employees. A site support services team make sure that the basic areas of the office function properly such as setting up meeting rooms, sorting out the post, ensuring adequate supply of cups, teas, and coffees for employees, replenishing printer toner, etc. The effect of the site support team is that employees don’t waste time and have more time to focus on their work, thus improving productivity.
The need to have a clean environment in the aftermath of a pandemic received only 10% of the votes which would make it seem like it is not as much of a priority as before. However, this contrasts with our experience. Our clients request cleaning personnel to be a visible presence onsite to reassure employees that their workplace is clean and safe. Additionally, more clients are requesting on demand cleaning to deal with the partial return of employees and to make better use of the time and resources. As restrictions around masks and social distancing have almost been entirely removed, except for healthcare settings, it may explain why it does not appear to be the number one motivating factor for employees returning to the workplace more regularly.
How Acacia can help
Our range of soft services can assist in encouraging employees to return to the workplace including catering, cleaning, site support services, environmental management, and landscaping among others. Supporting employees returning to the workplace more regularly is a concern for employers. Offering food or light catering is one way of bringing people back to the workplace in a way that supports employee wellbeing while encouraging colleagues to reconnect and rebuild corporate culture for a new workplace. Soft services help your business to ensure that workplace facilities live up to expectations and address the needs of the new emerging workplace. Contact us here to start the conversation about how we can help support your employees return to the workplace.