This research is being carried out in order to learn about the methods, which can be used in order to improve the workplace environment. In order to gain information about the above topic a literature review will be conducted. Literature review is a very essential part of a research. Literature review is a secondary source of information. It is very useful in acquiring required information. Moreover, it is also a very reliable source of gaining information; as information gained through this process is generated from books, journals, articles, government records or any previous research on the same topic etc. As information acquired through literature review comes from these established sources therefore, it becomes a very reliable source of knowledge. In this research, literature review will be helpful in learning about workplace environment, importance of improving it and methods through which this improvement can be brought about.
With the help of this literature review, one can learn about many aspects of an organization’s work environment. These aspects are: – the methods of creating a good work environment, the importance of work environment, consequences of not having proper work environment or having a hostile work environment, importance of health and safety factors in work environment. Therefore, this literature review will be helpful in learning about the methods, which can help an organization to improve its work environment.
Heath (2006) states, the biggest goal of all the business organization is to increase their productivity, thus decreasing their cost of production and making high profits. Although, there is very less amount of effort, which these organizations make in order to increase their productivity. Many employers have a very wrong view that productivity can be increased by giving their employees good pay package and timely increments for their work. What these employers are not aware of is that there are many other factors, which affects the performance of the employees in an organization. One of the major factors, which have an impact on the motivation level of the employees and their performance, is the workplace environment.
The author says that the level of innovation of an employee, his performance in a team, his commitment to the job and other such factors are determined by the immediate work environment that the employee is surrounded with and his/her engagement level with the organization. It has been proved in many studies that many employees leave their organizations due to bad experiences with their immediate supervisors. This shows that workplace environment plays an important role in an employee’s professional life. There are very limited numbers of employees, in every organization, whose requirements can be fulfilled simply by providing them with monetary benefits. The major part of the employees require more than just monetary. They want healthy workplace environment where they can work in harmony with their team members and their supervisors (Heath, 2006).
Factors of a Workplace Environment
Work environment is a mixture of many factors, which when come together to form the environment of an organization. These factors are: – goal setting, workplace incentives, defined processes, performance feedback, Role congruity, mentoring, resource availability and supervisor support. All these factors together have an impact on the performance of an employee. Therefore, in order to gain better results from the employees, it becomes very essential that they should be provided with proper work environment factors.
Goal setting, for every employee is a very important task and employees want they should also be involved in setting their goals and performance measures. This factor can easily be taken care of by deciding these factors through an informal meet between the employee and his/her supervisor. This will allow all the employees to be a part of their goal setting procedure, which will influence the employees to perform well in order to achieve goals set by them. Another important factor for creating a good work environment is to provide employees with regular feedback on their performance. The feedback should include both the negative and positive aspects of the employee’s performance. It should not be so that only the mistakes of an employee are being pointed but good performance done by an employee should also be appreciated. Organization should take care that the delivery of the feedback is appropriate, so that the employee does not feel awful after getting a negative feedback. Areas where he/she should improve should be made clear in the feedback so that the employee can improve upon his/her skills.
Next important factor, in order to provide an employee with a cordial environment, is to provide the employee with a job which complies with his/her expectations from the job. The job description and the role which the employee is supposed to perform should be in uniformity with the tasks allocated by the manager. Not only this, the processes of performing the tasks should also be well defined. The process management should be proper and any requirements of the job should be properly communicated to the employees (Taiwo, 2010).
In order to enhance the performance of the employees, it is very important that the organization should determine what motivates their employees. As according to the requirements of the employees and their performance, the employees should be provided with proper workplace incentives. Incentives can be both internal and external like challenging tasks and better compensation. As mentioned above, one of the biggest reason because of which the employees leave organization is due to bad experiences with their managers. Therefore, another important factor for creating a suitable environment for the employees is to provide them with supervisor support. The supervisor’s should be supportive of the employees and help them in performing their tasks. The supervisors should have good interpersonal skills so that they can maintain proper relationship with their employees and enhance their self-confidence. It is very necessary that the supervisor’s should appreciate the employees whenever they do a good job.
An essential requirement of the employees is that they want to learn more and enhance their skills. If a job is not enriching their skills then they might not be interested in doing that job. Therefore, it is very important that the employees should be provided with regular trainings in order to enhance their existing skills and developing new skills. Another important factor to create a better work environment is resource availability. Employees should be provided with required resources so that they can perform well. All the above mentioned factors are required to be present in an organization in order to provide the employees with a good working environment.
Therefore, it can be concluded that work environment consists of those material and abstract factors, which ease the working of an employee in an organizational set up. These factors provide the employees with a set of motivating elements, which help them in increasing their efficiency to perform better and enhance their productivity. Absence of these factors may result in employee dissatisfaction, which may lead to low productivity, absenteeism, high rate of error etc. Therefore, all the organizations should strive to provide their employees with cordial working environment.
Health and safety issues in the workplace
Apart from the factors, which motivate the employees and provide them with harmonious working conditions, there are certain other factors, which are very important for creating a good environment for the employees. These factors are: – health and safety of the employees. The first and foremost requirement of any employee is that he/she should have been provided with a safe and healthy environment. It is the minimum requirement that every organization should fulfill in order to create a good work environment. It is very important for an organization that it should take necessary steps in order to ensure health and safety of their health.
Kerke (2010) state, creating a safer work environment is crucial to every business. This does not only imply that the organizations should avoid accidents but it also means that organization should discourage any kind of unhealthy and unsafe staff practices. Every organization should adopt workplace safety as its regular feature. In order to ensure safety at the workplace, an organization can conduct regular safety briefings. There are many organizations, who in order to provide their employees with safety, having daily safety meetings and many others have weekly safety meetings.
The author states that workplace should be inspected regularly, so that unsafe conditions and practices can be monitored. These inspections should be made at-least once or twice per week. The supervisors should be informed about what kind of situations can be harmful. This will make them geared up, in case there is any mis-happening. Any dangerous accident must be properly investigated, so that such accidents can be avoided in future. When any accidents take place then the employees should not be blamed or punished but should be taught about their mistakes. Putting blames will lower employee’s morale and will lead to further increase the risk of accidents. After any kind of dangerous accident the safety measures should be positively reinforced (Kerke, 2010).
All the employees must be given proper on the job training, regarding safety measures. They can be trained by their senior employees or professional trainers but their must be certain regular trainings, which can help the employees to handle all the equipments safely. Equipment handling should be made a regular part of the induction training program of the employees. In order to see that safety measures are properly implemented organizations should appoint safety officer. Such safety officers will be helpful in dealing with all the health and safety related matter on a regular basis. Safety officer will play a dominant role in implementing the health and safety programs of an organization. Safety committees can also be created, which can assist the safety officer in performing his duties. Organizations should take proper care that the accidents must be prevented, as far as possible. All the healthy and safety measures must be properly documented. If there is lack of proper health and safety measures then many potential employees can refuse to take up jobs. Therefore, it is very necessary that organizations should take proper care to implement health and safety measures.
Jones (2010), states, that in all the organizations employees are subjected to different sorts of threats to their health and safety. These threats depend on the nature of work that an employee undertakes. There are certain hazards, which exist in all kind of organizations, if proper safety measures are not taken. Certain areas where hazards are bound to occur, if safety measures are not in place, are: – chemical hazards, task design, environmental hazards, workstation design, equipments etc. Apart from these hazards many other physical hazards related to temperature, light, ventilation etc. can also occur if proper precautions are not taken. Certain workplace conditions and staff practices may also create certain sort of psychological hazards to the employees (Jones, 2010).
The people who handle the electronic equipment face threat from these equipments. Injuries like electrical shock, electrical fires and burn injuries may occur while using any sort of electrical equipment. In order to protect the employees from such accidents it is important that all such equipments, which can cause injury, should be inspected regularly and if any equipment is found in improper shape then it should be replaced as soon as possible. Organizations should give special attention to employee’s comfort level, while designing the workstations. If this is not given due attention then employees might have to face lots of problems in future.
There are many minute issues, which should be given proper consideration while designing workstations so that employees do not face any health problems later. For example the shelves and storage spaces in the workstation should be placed at comfortable level, so that employees do not face any problem due to that. In case if it is necessary to have high storage spaces then the employees, who are supposed to use them, should be provided with training and precautionary measures, which should be implemented while using such spaces. Employees may also be at risk from indoor air pollutants, which can lead to respiratory diseases in employees. In order to avoid any such situations, the organization should take proper steps. For example, the air conditioners should be cleaned timely; other equipments that give out exhausts should be installed at places where there are proper ventilation facilities.
Another factor, which might create unhealthy environment in the organization, is noise. Noise in the work environment can lead to much health related problems like stress and tension, which poses danger to psychological health of the employees. In order to reduce noise in the office, organizations should have equipments, which run without noise. This would be helpful in maintaining peace and a quiet working environment in the organization. A proper work environment is one, where the employees are provided with comfort and any such situation which might pose danger to the mental or physical health of the employee are avoided. In order to create a proper environment for the employees, organizations can use the above mentioned techniques. These techniques will prove to be very helpful in creating an atmosphere, which would be very beneficial for the employees. It will also boost the motivation level of the employees as well as it would also help in increasing the productivity of the employees.
Scand (2002) states, that there are five requirements, which should be fulfilled in order to provide physiologically fit work environment to the employees. As according to the author, work should be designed in a manner that every individual is allowed to influence his work, methods and practices. This allows an individual to maintain his individuality at work. The design of the work should be self explanatory for the employee, which means that the employee should be able to understand the work process easily. The employees should be provided with opportunities to showcase all their skills. They should also be provided with opportunities to enhance and develop new skills. Organizations should take care that the employees have an environment where they get a chance to make human contacts and co-operation with other employees during their work. Employees should have satisfactory working hours, so that they are able to fulfill their obligations apart from job, which includes duties towards family and society (Scand, 2002).
All the above mentioned elements are very necessary to maintain psychological health of an employee. Due to the growing importance of the psychological health in an organization a new discipline has merged, known as occupational health psychology. It can be said that healthy work requires appropriate level of psychological job demands. According to the author, motivation and stress are two sides of the same coin. Therefore, it is important that the work environment provide with balanced work situation. For example, high expectations but not very high, proper control but not very strict supervision, likewise all other work situations should be balanced. Work provides with motivation and has an impact on the mental health and productivity of an employee. If work is not able to provide with balanced work characteristics then it may create stressful environment for the employees. Continuous exposure to bad work environment may result in serious illness. Therefore, it is very important that apart from physical safety of an employee the organizations should also take care of the employee’s mental health.
It is very important that the organizations should provide employees with work according to their abilities and skills rather than developing skills, in employees, which suits the work of the organization. Organizations should prevent disparities between the work of employees and their skills, from arising. Employees can be retained in the organization if new technologies are adopted to do so, attention is paid towards the requirements of the employees, health and safety issues are provided to the employees. All these things are required because one of the major problems, in the organizations today is, work related stress and fatigue and they are increasing day by day. The most common health problems that arise at work are stress, fatigue and backache. One of the reasons of these diseases is that employees are required to work under strict deadlines at high speed. In the present era customer demands are very high and therefore, in order to satisfy their customers and fulfill customer demand the organizations pressurize their employees to work more and increase productivity. Such increased demand and pressure leads to stress and decreases the productivity of employees rather than increasing it (Schubnell, Meuer & Bengtson, 2008).
In the last few decades organizations have gone through a lot of changes. These changes have a huge influence on the psychosocial work environment and hence, affected the stress at workplace. These developments include: – more and more utilization of communication technology, globalization, expansion of the service sector, change in the workforce, new production concepts. Now a days employees work in an organizational setup rather than working in industry or fields, in teams and without any job security.
The nature of work itself has changed and now there is increased workload. Earlier work used to be mental, but now it has become mental in nature. Therefore, mental and emotional demands of the work have increased. From this, it can be concluded that the biggest problem of the present day organizations is work related stress. This has a negative influence on both the employees and the organization and can lead to serious illness. From this study, it is clear that health and safety are two major elements of work environment. If organizations are not able to provide the employees with safe and healthy work environment then there can be certain serious consequences. For example productivity can go down, employee’s intention to quit may increase or many employees may loose their job, employees may face certain serious threats to their health etc. As all these consequences are very harmful therefore, it is very important that organizations should take care of the health and safety of the employees and provide them with a proper work environment.
Consequences of a bad work environment
Lowe & Chan (n.d.) state, that work environment of an organization not only poses danger for the organization but also affects the productivity of the organization. Unhealthy and unsafe work environment in an organizational set up creates reduction in job satisfaction, reduction in commitment of employees, accidents, absenteeism, errors, reduction in productivity. Absenteeism is another problem which organizations have to face, if they are unable to provide the employees with good work environment. The authors state that positive employment relationships, satisfaction among employees and safe working environment has an effect on the employees’ health, absenteeism and intention to quit. If the employees are not provided with proper work environment, then it is bound to have an impact on the productivity of the organization and will definitely result in low productivity. Healthy and safe work environment provides the employees with motivation to do well in their job these situations are also helpful in increasing the productivity of the organization. But if healthy and safe work environments do not exist then the opposite is bound to take place. Moreover, the cases of absenteeism, turnover, errors and accidents will increase (Lowe & Chan, n.d.).
Mikkelsen & Gundersen (2001) states,that the most harmful consequences of a dangerous work environment are stress, fatigue and other such health issues. The last decade has seen an increase in the stress related illness. With the increase in time constraints, workload, job demands and strict deadlines stress has also increased. As according to the authors this stress is increasing day by day. Work has become so stressful that employees do not get enough time to discuss about anything else apart from their jobs. The increase in the number of jobs, which are very stressful, shows that work related illness, is on an increase, in the organizations. Stressful jobs produce a huge number of negative health results. Every kind of organization is looking forward to ways, which can help them in reducing employee sickness and absence. Along with the increase in these kinds of sickness, the organizations also have to pay compensations for injuries and illness that happen to their employees, at work. Therefore, not does only employee suffer due to the bad work conditions but even organizations have to face a lot of troubles due to the bad working conditions (Mikkelsen & Gundersen, 2001).
Improving the Work Environment
Now that it has been proved that work environment has a lot of impact on both the employees and the organization therefore, it can be said that it is very important for the organizations to implement such methods which can improve the work environment. All the organizations want to increase productivity and utilize the skills of their employees properly. In order to this, it is very important that the organizations should be able to avoid all kinds of practices, which may create health or safety related problems for the employees.
Fries (n.d.) states, that there are two ways to combat work related pressure. These are either to remove the elements, which create problems or alter an employee’s perception towards those elements. In the past, all the methods adopted for reducing stress have been external. These methods are, job redesign, training, employee involvement, better organizational network. All these methods have been taken in order to increase employee’s productivity. The present organizations are careful of their employees’ requirement and have a clear understanding about the workplace interactions. As against the age old practice of having many bosses, the present day organizations have started adopting the concept of working teams, wherein the employees get a chance to learn new things and where the supervisors are not controllers but mentor and coach for the employees. Moreover, the employers know that in order to increase employee’s productivity it is very important that they should realize that their work is important, they have certain amount of control on their goal and that they are given due recognition for their work (Fries, 2010).
In order to improve the work environment the organizations are providing the employees with assistance in their work. Many organizations have certain wellness programs for their employee, which act as a stress-buster for the employees. Organization also have counseling sessions for their employees, these sessions are helpful in understanding the reasons of employee stress. In order to reduce employee stress, many organizations have come up with the idea of gym facilities at the workplace, whereas, other organizations provide their employees with reimbursement for local gym memberships. These little changes are very helpful in making the work environment more for work. Although there is a lot more, which the organizations should do in order to provide a better working environment to the employees. Organizations should try to find out those factors, which create stressful situations for the employees. Many organizations forget, to take into consideration, the employee’s idea of a good working environment, while creating a better place for the employees. Therefore, the author suggests that mindfulness training can help the employees in reducing stress.
Mindfulness means living in the present moment. Mindfulness training helps in learning about ways, which can keep us alive even and present even in negative circumstances. Mindfulness is related to meditation. Mindfulness is a practice of enhancing the quality of one’s life and everyone benefits from this practice. The practice of mindfulness makes an employee capable of concentrating in the present moment. In this way employee’s concentration becomes very strong and he/she is able to pay attention to work. This practice is very beneficial for the employees as well as for the organization. These are certain ways in which the organizations try to help their employees in increasing their productivity and reducing stress.
Tyler (2004) states, that for most of the employees, their supervisor is the representation of their organization. If the employees don’t like their supervisors then they will never like their organization. The biggest reason for the employees to leave an organization is a bad relationship with their senior. Therefore, it is very important for the organizations that in order to retain employees and improve work environment the organizations need to mange the manger and employee relationship. As the job market heats up, it has become the prime importance to retain employees. As more and more employees are looking forward to change their jobs, it is very important for the organization to retain the best talent in the organization, and this can be done by creating a good working enthronement for the employees. As according to the author the best of the employees leave the organizations as fast as possible. When the unemployment levels become very low, then the organizations try to retain their employees and once the unemployment levels becomes high again then the organizations do not care about their employees. But if the situation changes again then the organizations again become concerned about their employees (Tyler, 2004).
The best way to retain the employees is to have a strong management and a strong rewarding system, so that whenever the situation changes the organization has nothing to fear, although, only few companies are able to achieve that. As according to a research, only one out of five employees is satisfied with their company’s management. Employees are interested in being associated with such companies, which have a good management system. If the supervisors are the main source of retaining the talent in an organization then it is required that the mangers in the organization should be trained, so that they are able to maintain good relationship with their subordinates and able to create a good working environment for the employees.
A good manger is a key source of retaining the employees. A good manger is respected by his/her subordinates. It is very important that in order to create a good working environment the organizations should adopt such practices, which support good interpersonal relationships between their employees. In order to create a good manger and subordinate relationship it is very important that the managers should be trained to deal with the employees in a right manner. It is important that all the mangers should be given those skills through training, which is required in order to maintain good relations with employees.
Organizations should have specific business models, which defines the manager’s role in dealing with the employees and helping them in becoming productive. A feedback system should also be created, with the help of which the organization can take the views of the employees of what they feel about their mangers. With the help of this feedback system the organization can also ask the employees to list those areas where their managers require improvement. Once these areas are identified, the companies can easily provide the managers with required training. Most important factor is to conduct exit interviews that give a picture of the problems, which the employees face in the organization (Kompier, 2002).
If managers are really helpful in order to retain employees, then it is very important that the company should strive hard to train the managers. The author states that organizations spend lot of their resources in order to retain their employees and make them loyal towards the organization. But the truth is that the employees are not loyal to companies they are loyal to people, therefore it is very important that the organization should have good mangers so that they are able to cerate good work environment for the employees. As according to the author, there are three main elements, which are required to create effective workplace relationships. These elements are: – accepting the behavioral differences between people, communication and management of conflict. These elements create an understanding environment and develop long term relationship.
Pettersson (2003) states, that in order to manage the work environment, it is very necessary that the organization takes into account the changes which are required and what the company is supposed to do in future. For doing this, the company can check the everyday task and what influence does these tasks have on the work environment. If there are certain examples, which are stressful, then the employees should be provided with temporary relief. An employee who is new to the task or who has been away from work for a long time should be provided with proper information and support to accomplish his/her work. Organizations should also take into consideration, the impact of change, on the employees. Changes like reorganization, introduction of new technologies and change in production have a deep impact on the employees (Pettersson, 2003).
A major problem that hampers the work environment in an organization is the occurrence of accidents. The occurrence of illness, accidents, strain etc, proves that there is certain amount of risk present in the work environment. After the occurrence, if any accident is very important then the reason behind such occurrence should be investigated properly. After investigating the reason, proper steps should be taken to avoid such accidents in future. All such elements should be removed, which might give birth to any accident. Another method to improve the work environment is to review the work environment management of the last year. Moreover, it is very necessary that the organizations should write down the accounts of accidents and illness that have taken place in the organizations. Organizations should also have their risk assessment plans in writing. If an organization is small and has a very small number of employees then it is not very important to have these things documented. But if the organization is big and has a large number of employees then the organization should have these accidents and risk assessment plans be properly documented. These documents should be clear and understandable. An organization should take care that the investigations, to check the work environment and to see that health and safety measures are properly implemented, should be made at regular intervals. These investigations are helpful in understanding the risks, which are present in the work environment and what factors are required to deal with.
The literature review has been helpful in learning about the different aspects of work environment. The literature review has been helpful in understanding about what is work environment, what are the factors that affect it, what are consequences of not having a good working environment, the importance of health and safety issues in creating a good work environment and the ways by which the work environment can be improved. As according to the literature review the work environment is the atmosphere wherein all the activities take place. In order to increase employee's productivity and make the best use of the skills of the employees it is important for the organizations that they should maintain good work environment so that the employees can work efficiently.
In the last decade the work related stress and health problems have increased therefore, it becomes the duty of the organization that it should take measures in order to create a good work environment for the employees. The major problems that arise in an organizational setup are: - bad relationship between the employees and their immediate seniors, stress, fatigue, issues related to physical health, issues related to psychological health. All such issues are very harmful for the employees as well as organizations. If these situations exist then the employees will be affected as they will suffer from illness and other problems.
The organizations will suffer as due to these problems the productivity of the organization will become low and they will have to pay compensation to the employees for their illness and accidents that take place in the organization. Therefore, the organizations are required to take care that they maintain a healthy work environment. The workplace should be safe for employees, all measures should be taken in order to prevent any accidents, workstations should be designed keeping in mind the comfort of the employees and efforts should be made in order to make the relationship between the supervisors and subordinates.
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