Managing the work environment is about optimising the workplace so that you can get the best from your employees. It’s about creating a positive physical and mental work environment where fairness, respect and safety sit alongside primary concerns of the balance sheet. These important aspects of management are in fact complementary, each helping to improve the other. A government report (2014) has shown how employee wellbeing impacts positively on workplace performance. When staff feel safe, respected and valued they perform better and tend to be more loyal to a company. In other words, the quality of the work environment can affect employee engagement.
The alleged ‘toxic environment’ of several companies has hit the headlines recently. These companies are accused of chaotic, volatile and dangerous working environments and are now having to rescue their damaged reputations – and profits. Managers should take heed and double their efforts to provide a safe and positive space in which employees can do their job properly. This applies to:
- Promoting fairness and respect
Unfair treatment at work is thought to be a frequent cause of worker dissatisfaction. Some things may go wrong from time to time so to manage disputes and conflicts at work, managers should have in place strategies to resolve disputes and conflicts in a prompt and fair way.
- Providing a reasonable sense of physical security for employees.
Poor physical security can also have a negative impact on an employee’s sense of wellbeing. Employers should review their ‘access to premises’ procedures – keypad entry or using biometric data, for example facial recognition, could be considered.
- Prioritising safety at work practices
Bad working conditions can affect an employee’s physical health so review the adequacy of equipment and the general ambiance of the work environment.
Prevention of risks to physical health, such as reducing rates of injury and accidents should be top of the list – pay attention too to factors such as temperature, ventilation etc. A perceived lack of supervisor concern can serve to de-motivate workers. And it’s not just about the physical aspects of managing the environment. A low quality environment can cause stress and anxiety in staff which soon spirals down into higher rates of sickness and low job satisfaction.
- Providing clarity about the employee’s job role and the expectations of them
Similarly, confusion about their role and expectations can also lead to stress and anxiety in staff. It’s all about doing being clear and fair which contributes hugely to positive employee evaluations about their work environment.
- Provision for ‘Lone Workers’
Small businesses especially also need to pay special heed to provision for ‘Lone Workers’, a category of worker now defined by law in the UK and covered by legislation including the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. The UK Code of Practice relating to the ‘Provision of one worker services’ is via British Standard 8484: 2016. Managing the safety of lone workers is a key concern and employers will want to ensure that they:
√ Have a documented Lone Worker Policy
√ Conduct appropriate Risk Assessments
√ Give Lone Worker Training
√ Use monitoring systems and equipment to track Lone Workers
It’s clear that the working environment has the power to affect the sense of wellbeing of employees. A good manager will show – and act on – concern about the work environment. Make a list of the areas which need regular review. Consider a survey of employees to assess their top concerns (as Amazon did after several negative reports). You’ll then be in a good position to come up with a robust plan for improving the work environment for your workforce and your business.
Chronologic offers excellent practical workforce management solutions. You can review automated time and attendance data, absence rates and other types of reporting data to help assess the effectiveness of your work environment policies.