A safe and healthy work environment is necessary for employee productivity
Imagine someone being asked to sit and work at a noisy dusty place from morning till evening day in and day out. It would be unreasonable to expect that employee to work wholeheartedly and sincerely to give out his best.
Contrast with a situation where an employee works in an air-conditioned quiet place with an ergonomically designed chair and desk. A human being craves for comfort even while working as half of that time he is more concerned with external factors like chair, table, dust, heat, humidity, poor light and loud noise. Usually, a quiet and tranquil environment is preferred.
A few enlightened organisations have realised the need for a conducive environment at the workplace that would boost a person’s productivity to a great extent than what has been realised.
They make sure the employee has a comfortable chair, a worktable that is of the proper height, clean surroundings, sometimes with indoor plants to enliven the workplace, a soft music in the background, good lighting and preferably air-conditioned and humidity-controlled cabin for comfort.
A person needs space to stretch himself instead of sitting close to a colleague at the workplace. Hence the layout of a working space has to be scientifically designed keeping a human being’s comfort level in mind. It should not be cluttered with all sorts of material to pack up available space. A workplace environment could affect an employee’s productivity either positively or negatively.
The work environment has to be safe and healthy with no hazards and undue risks.
Some of the small-scale industries work on a shoestring budget and take every opportunity to cut costs, often at the cost of employee safety and well-being.
Electrical wires are drawn haphazardly, no plugs are provided but wires are inserted into sockets, multiple connections are taken out of a single socket, no proper electrical grounding and overload protection is provided. In such an environment, accidents are waiting to happen and the workers and others are exposed to greater risks.
Often workers squat on the ground on dirty floors and do not have any safety equipment like helmets, masks, goggles, safety shoes and gloves. Often factory inspectors turn a blind eye to such an unsafe work environment and corrupt practices cannot be ruled out to cover up such glaring unsafe working conditions. What the owners forget is that by having a better and safer environment, productivity of each worker would go up significantly.
Some of the workplace related problems like a person’s sickness, mental attitude such as anxiety and worry could be related to the working environment. Every employee should have access to safe drinking water and clean toilet.
A well-run canteen that offers quality food at affordable prices would be an added attraction for employees. Overalls, gloves, boots and other personal equipment should be cleaned at regular intervals. Facilities should be available for immediate first aid at the workplace.
An ambulance should be ready all the time to rush any emergency case to the nearest hospital or nursing home. It would be advisable to carry out periodical health check-ups for each and every employee, especially those who are exposed to heat, smoke, fumes and radiation. Noise is another disturbing factor that needs to be controlled. All noisy machines will have to be fixed on proper foundations and, preferably, enclosed in soundproof enclosures to minimise noise and vibration. This also applies to standby DG generators that have to be enclosed for soundproofing as well as safe smoke outlet.
Workers should be provided with protective earmuffs that prevent loud noise that could hurt them.
Some managements provide an attractive place for employees to relax, have recreation, gym facilities, a quiet room for meditation and yoga and sports facilities and a place where one could access books and magazines.
It is the norm these days for employees to be provided with transport between home and workplace.
Such a facility reduces absenteeism and minimises reasons for excuse for arriving late for work. Some organisations have structured outings regularly for relaxation as well as better bonding between employees, supervisors and managers.
The fear that such facilities would be misused is ill-founded, as employees need to be trusted and given time off to unwind and freshen up. A workplace cannot be treated as a jail where people will have to stick to rules and strict discipline. They need freedom to enjoy a few moments off for rest and relaxation and to feel free from routine.
In fact, productivity and motivation of such employees, provided with multiple facilities and allowed a degree of freedom to work at one’s own pace, would increase automatically. It is also noticed that such an organisation enjoys a greater degree of loyalty and lesser absenteeism due to health related problems.
(The writer is a consultant, Q & M)