What Is Working Environment & Why Is It So Important? Part 1
By Kim Pedersen (Guest Blogger)
Today's guest blogger is Kim Pedersen. Kim is an expert in Japan business and global working environments and the founder of Roukan.com (Roukan.jp localized for the Japanese market) as well as a member of the High-Impact Coaching Alliance's advisory board.
Why Is Working Environment (WE) So Important?
Well, the simple answer to this question is that it has a huge impact on a company’s profits. If a profitable organization is important to you then you should pay careful attention to your company's WE. This is just one of the reasons why WE is so important.
Another reason for its importance is that it influences an employee’s well-being to a very high degree. From a corporate standpoint, depending on how you understand and manage WE you can either increase the profitability and competitiveness of your company or you can risk being potentially sued and/or losing money through lack of employee engagement and reduced productivity, absenteeism and so on.
The funny thing about WE is that depending on which path you choose you will either receive all of the positive effects or all of the negative effects. There seems to be no middle ground in regards to WE. In practice, this means that you can choose to have very satisfied employees, a good working environment and higher productivity and profits or you can choose to have very unsatisfied employees, a bad working environment and the chance of litigation and resultant lower profits.
So what is your choice going to be?
The choice shouldn't be that hard, but it does seem to be the case that in the real world the choice is hard. As a result, many companies choose not to focus on WE and even more companies continue to associate and do business with vendors and subcontractors who operate under a bad WE.
What Exactly Is Working Environment?
WE is practically everything that influences the workplace, ranging from physical elements which can include equipment, buildings, air quality, desks, computers and so on. It is also about emotional and psychological elements such as work enjoyment (psychic pleasure), the meaningfulness of the work, stress levels, the level or intensity of power harassment, ability to influence one's work, predictability, perceived fairness and so on. There are a lot of elements that together form working environment experienced by each employee. Some elements are common to all employees while other elements are or can be different from one employee to another.
What Is The Impact Of The Working Environment?
As previously mentioned, WE has a huge impact, either positive or negative, on a variety of elements which impact the company's productivity and financial performance. For instance, good WE can have an impact on employees, so they feel strong loyalty to the company, or they feel that they want to give it their all. Better WE means more responsible employees and more engaged employees. If the WE is experienced positively, the company might even avoid law suits from employees who would have filed a law suit if the WE was bad through the goodwill that has been established. On the other hand, bad WE often results in stress, frustrations and uncertainty leading to less engagement and thus less productive employees. In the worst case bad WE can result in direct negative income for the company.
Which Working Environment Elements Have The Largest Impacts?
Well, this is very difficult to say. It depends very much on what the employee’s experiences of the present WE are. However, in many countries, improvement of the mental working environment has been demonstrated to have an extremely good effect on the WE, and best of all, it doesn't even cost much to improve it! In many cases there are no good reasons NOT to improve the mental WE. And if we ignore it, it can be very costly in both human suffering and financial losses or hits.
How Do You Identify Those Areas That Will Yield The Greatest ROI For Th Lowest Capital Investment?
As company, there is no doubt that you want to keep the cost of any improvements as low as possible especially given the current economic situation. However, the good news is that you actually have all the information necessary to make these improved right now, within your own company. The persons who knows the most about your WE is your very own employees. Therefore, the very best way of finding the most cost-effective way of improving your working environment is actually to poll your own staff members to share their honest opinions.
As simple as it sounds, this can be a very difficult task and although it varies from country to country, we have found that usually the worse the WE becomes, the more difficult it is to received honest opinions on the WE from the employees. The reason is that often they are simply afraid to be identified as the one individual complaining about a certain issue. Even in companies with excellent or fairly good WE, employees can be very reticent about being fully honest about what they want improved, as there are always risks associated for any employee who would be bold enough to criticize the current WE. At least until now.
One Solution: Roukan.com / Roukan.jp
Roukan.com provides an opportunity for your employees to give their completely honest opinions about the different aspects of your company's WE. They don’t have to worry that their responses will be associated with them and then passed on to the company so they can be honest and introspective. We collect the survey response and then analyze and summarize the responses into powerful but anonymized charts. This way, it is easy for everyone to see where the problem lies while ensuring that an individual cannot be identified. Further, we will find the critical issues that are mentioned again and again by more than one individual and from it suggest improvements for your company.
There is a world of difference in what the results will yield depending on whether you focus on what a consultant tells you he thinks the problem is and what the actual workers tells you the problem is. Roukan.com supplies you with the highest quality information as it comes from the very source of the people experiencing the WE in your company on a daily basis.
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