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Role of Workplace Environment in Influencing Employee Productivity

Role of Workplace Environment in Influencing Employee Productivity

Workplace is an arranged area which is provided by the organization to its employees for carrying out their work. This arranged area can be described as the layout of a work space which suits the nature of the job or task which is to be performed. It can have an office layout with cubicles, control pulpits, control desks, chairs and cabinets, or just a work table with all types of tools which are needed for the work.

Workplace environment is the immediate surroundings of the employee which is manipulated by the employee for carrying out the assigned job. Hence, a workplace gives an environment to the employee to perform a given task. It is considered as the environment in which employees work and it include physical setting, job profile, culture, and surrounding conditions. It is the environment where the employees work together for achieving organizational goal and objectives. It means systems, processes, structures, and tools and all those things which interact with the employees and affect in positive or negative ways on the employees performance. It can also be considered as the location where a task is being carried out. It involves the physical geographical location as well as the immediate surroundings of the workplace. It typically involves all other factors relating to the place of employment. The right type of workplace environment is needed in order to make the employees to feel comfortable while doing their job effectively.

The workplace environment is the most critical factor in keeping an employee satisfied in today’s fast changing conditions under which organizations are functioning. The present day workplace is different, diverse, and constantly changing. With technological development, innovative communication methods, and alternative work patterns, workplace continues to change rapidly.

Workplace environment can be anything which exists around the employees and can affect how they perform their jobs and duties. Workplace environment is both an external and an internal condition which can influence the working spirit of the employees and result in influencing the quantity and the quality of the jobs of the employees. A decent working environment is a condition where individual employees can do their jobs in an ideal, secure, healthy, and comfort way. Hence, several studies classify the work environment into toxic and conducive environments.

The workplace environment is important to the organization since it is supposed to motivate employees which results in a better productivity, greater passion for the organization, and a deeper engagement with the work. It is also believed that the employees contribute positively to the work outcome when they feel valued and respected at their workplace. A positive workplace environment is always good for both the employees and the organization. Besides work engagement and motivation at the workplace, the workplace environment also covers the working culture, working style, hierarchies, and also human resource policies which are implemented or practiced in the organization.

An attractive and supportive workplace environment can be described as an environment which attracts employees towards the work. On the other hand, a hostile workplace environment exists when the employees’ behaviour within a work place creates an environment which is difficult for another person to encounter. A hostile workplace environment causes safety and health concerns and leads to reduced employees’ productivity.

Based on a description of what is meant by workplace environment, a strong interaction is found between job performance and physical working environment. The physical environment at work is critical to the employees’ performance, satisfaction, social relations, and health. It is normally understood that the physical design of the working areas and the environmental conditions at workplaces are important factors for achieving the organizational performance.

The productivity of the employees is determined by the environment in which they work. Workplace environment includes all the aspects which act and react on the body and mind of the employees. Under organizational psychology, workplace environment includes the physical, mental, and social environment where employees are working together and their work is to be analyzed for better effectiveness and increase in the productivity. The major purpose is to generate an environment which ensures the ultimate ease of effort and eliminates all the causes of frustration, anxiety, and worry. If the environment is friendly then fatigue, monotony and boredom are minimized and work performance can be maximized. Work has an economic aspect as well as mechanical aspect and it has also psychological aspect. Effective workplace environment encourages the employee to be happier with their job and this ultimately influences the growth of the organization as well as the growth of the employees.

Workplace environment and productivity are perceived by some people as two opposite things. These people consider workplace environment as an extra, resource-consuming, non-productive activity, which the line managers dislike because of the lack of production stemming from it. On the other hand, some other people consider that a poor workplace environment affects employees’ productivity adversely in a major way and hence the organizational management is required to pay the necessary attention to it. In fact, the relationship between workplace environment and employees’ productivity is a subject of several studies. The outcome of all these studies is that there exist a close relationship between employees’ productivity and the workplace environment.

Workplace environment plays an important role towards the employees’ performance. Working environment is considered to impact immensely on employees’ performance either towards negative or the positive outcomes. When employees are physically and emotionally fit then they have the necessary desire to work and their performance outcomes are increased.

In addition to the job scope, the main factor which significantly influences how employees feel about work, is the environment. By workplace environment it means everything which forms part of the employee’s involvement with the work itself. Besides geographical place of work, it also includes the relationship with co-employees and line manager, organizational culture, and opportunity for personal development etc.

In the organization, employees perceive their workplace environment as fulfilling their intrinsic, extrinsic, and social needs and their need to stay in the organization. The impact of workplace environment on employees’ commitment is very high. If the employees are provided with enabling workplace environmental support, they are highly satisfied and show high level of commitment towards their job as well as to the organization. Experience in several organizations have shown that employees are directly influenced by the environment in which they work and even very competent employees do not perform well in terms of productivity if the environment is not conducive. Also, since there is an adverse effect of poor workplace environment on the morale of the employees, there is the need for provision of good physical workplace environment for the employees.

Workplace environment has both positive and negative impact on the psychological well-being of the employees. The workplace environment can be thought of simply as the environment in which the employees work. As such, it is of a very broad category which encompasses the physical setting (e.g. heat, equipment) and the characteristics of the job itself (e.g. work load, task complexity). Workplace environment is the location where the employees carryout their assigned tasks. It is the physical geographical location as well as the immediate surroundings of the workplace. It also involve several other factors relating to the place of employment, such as the quality of the air, noise level, and such basic amenities as rest rooms, parking place, canteen, and toilet block etc.

However, not all aspects of the workplace environment are equally important or indeed relevant when considering the psychological environment and how this environment affects employee well being. Workplace environment can be considered in economic, social, and technological contexts. It can be looked at as the surrounding of the situations, people, and events etc. which influence the work. Thus, employees who are working in a good environment exert greater effort to perform than those who work in an unhealthy environment.

A positive work environment makes employees feel good about their work and this provides the motivation to sustain them throughout the day. Workplace environment is an important component of work life for employees as employees spend significant part of their time at work, and it affects them in one way or the other. Employees who are satisfied from their workplace environment can lead towards more positive work outcomes. Several environmental factors such as colour, temperature, and workplace design etc. influence employees’ performance and well-being.

The work environment normally encompasses several factors and hence it impacts on the way the employees perform their work. The factors such as dissatisfaction, cluttered workplaces and the physical environment are playing a major role in the loss of employees’ productivity. Workplace environment greatly influences the employees’ mental status, actions, abilities, and performance. A comfortable environment is necessary since in it the employees can focus on their jobs correctly, and hence it leads to a better employees’ performance, which in turn leads to improved employees’ productivity. Attractive working atmosphere and supportive environment give increase to the circumstances in which employees put together their pre-eminent use of skills, competences, and knowledge to execute their job efficiently.

The workplace environment can determine the level of employee motivation, subsequent performance, and productivity. It influences the human errors made by the employees, the level of innovation, the collaboration with other employees, absenteeism and ultimately time period to stay on the job. It comprises the totality of forces, actions, and other influential factors which are currently and, or potentially contending with the employees’ activities and performance. It is the sum of the inter-relationship which exists within the employees and the environment in which the employees work.

Workplace environment involves the physical location as well as the immediate surroundings, behavioural procedures, policies, rules, culture, resources, working relationships, work location, all of which influence the ways employees perform their work. The quality of the workplace environment impacts on employees’ performance and subsequently influences the organization competiveness. An effective workplace environment management entails making work environment attractive, comfortable, satisfactory, and motivating to the employees so as to give employees a sense of pride and purpose in what they do.

Employees are always contented when they feel their immediate environment, both physical sensations and emotional states, are in tandem with their obligations. How well employees connect with their immediate workplace environment, has its influence to a great extent their efficiency and innovativeness, job satisfaction, collaboration with other employees, absenteeism, their making mistakes while carrying out their jobs and ultimately their performance.

A healthy workplace environment makes good business sense and is characterized by respect which supports employee engagement and creates a high performance culture that encourages innovation and creativity. Organizations which have positive workplace environments to work are more likely to have a competitive edge since they are in a better position to attract and retain highly skilled employees.

A fundamental requirement for employee satisfaction is a workplace environment which allows employees to perform their work at an optimal level in conducive and comfortable surroundings. The workplace environment plays an integral role towards employee satisfaction as well as the impact of employee satisfaction on productivity.

A physical work environment can result an employee to fit or misfit to the environment of the workplace. There are a few factors of physical work environment which need to be in good condition. Such factors include lightings, the floor configuration, shop layout and the positioning of the equipment in the shop. The elements of physical work environment need to be suitable so that the employees are not in stress while getting their job done. In fact, the physical element plays an important role in developing the network and relationship at the workplace.

A physical workplace environment where ergonomic design has been adopted both at the workplace as well as in the surroundings for human comfort has impacts on job satisfaction of the employees. In such places, employees work stress free since the working environment is less risky. The stress free workplace environment impacts most the employees’ level of motivation for them to perform efficiently at the workplace.

Workplace environment is simply the environment in which employees work. Hence, it is a very broad category which also encompasses broader organizational features (e.g. culture, history) and even aspects of the external organizational setting (e.g. local societal conditions, industry sector, and work life balance etc.) besides encompassing the physical setting and the characteristics of the job itself. Employees are always contended when they feel that their immediate environment states are in tandem with their obligations.

Positive workplace environments are necessary for employees’ psychological and physical welfare. These environments are to be deliberately planned and created at the workplace and not to be shaped by mistake. Good quality working conditions take place from ethics which the management views as significant to the organization, such as ensuring a controllable workload, and promoting two-way communication, and regular team meetings etc.. Nurturing a constructive place of work makes good business sense. A positive workplace is characterized by value which supports employee commitment. It also develops a high performance background which encourages improvement, innovation and creativity.

Organizations with positive places to work always have a competitive edge since they draw and retain highly skilled employees. A positive workplace environment is expected to result in less absenteeism and employee turnover, less cases of fraud, improved security practices, and improved employee wellbeing and comfort. Good working conditions at the workplace are created by the organizations where employees communicate positively and openly, where line manager expect the best from the employees and where respect and appreciation is given to the employees. Good workplace environment increases the capability and efficiency of the employees and hence the organization as a whole. In such organizations, management and employees have shared responsibility for building well balanced and respectful workplaces. Every organizational management wants a industrious workforce which manages its performance and get results.

Workplace environment can be divided into three broad components namely (i) physical environment which includes ventilation, temperature, noise, infrastructure, amenities, and housekeeping and cleanliness etc., (ii) mental environment which includes fatigue, boredom, monotony, attitude, and behaviour of line manager and colleagues, and (iii) social  environment which denotes to the cluster to which the employees is associated. Within a work group, employees form casual cluster in their personal capacity. Employees develop an intellect of belongingness to their cluster. The standards and privileged of the cluster impact significantly the attitude and behaviour of the individual employees.

Workplace environment is also being considered as a composite of three major sub-environments namely (i) the technical, (ii) the human environment and (iii) the organizational environment. These three sub environments are operative within organizational vision, mission, and values and follows organizational ethics and culture as shown in Fig 1.

Fig 1 Workplace environment and employee productivity

Technical environment refers to the technological processes, tools, equipment, technological infrastructure, and other physical or technical elements. The technical environment creates elements which enable the employees to perform their respective responsibilities and activities.

The human environment refers to peers, others with whom employees relates, team and work groups, interactional issues, the leadership, and the management. This environment is designed in such a way which encourages informal interaction in the workplace so that there is the opportunity available to the employees to share knowledge and exchange ideas for the enhancement of their capabilities. This is a basis to attain maximum productivity.

Organizational environment include systems, procedures, work practices, values and philosophies. Management has control over organizational environment. Measurement system where the employees are rewarded on quantity, leave the employees with little interest in the activities which are connected with the improvement of the quality. Thus, issues of organizational environment influence employees’ performance and productivity.

There exist a relationship between work, the workplace, and the tools of work. This relationship makes workplace an integral part of the work itself. It is important for the workplace environment to have a positive impact of on the employee performance level and this needs that there is good engagement of the employees with their workplace environment. A healthy organizational culture facilitates it. When there is a good engagements of employees with their workplace environment, then the environment has a strong impact on employees well being and then the employees develop interaction, collaboration and innovation, and increased job satisfaction.

The design of workplace impacts behaviour of the employees and this behaviour drives the performance level of the employees. Workspace is an essential part of the physical factor in the workplace. Poor layout and overcrowding do not lead to optimization but only increases the chance of getting injured or getting involved in accidents such as tripping or striking against objects. Further, it is claimed that layout also determines the visual appeal of a workplace.

The design of the workplace play vital role in increasing employees’ productivity level. In a study, it has been found that the organizational productivity can be improved by 5 % to 10 % through upgrading physical design of the workplace with this increased organizational performance is actually a result of enhanced employee performance. Also, the workplace environment has great impact on job performance of the individual employees and the level of performance can be increased from 5 % to 15 % because of the improved working conditions of the employees. The team performance can be increased by around 11 % through developing good workplace environment. It has also been observed that the workplace environment contributes to around 24 % in job satisfaction. Workplace environment along with the factors like compensation, rewards, and job security increase level of commitment and sense of belongingness with the organization. The level of job satisfaction increase because of the workplace environment in the organization ultimately leads to achievement of organization goal and objectives.

Workplace environment also impacts on employees stress as a good workplace environment leads to better fit between work space and employees and results in improving behaviour and stress related emotions. A good workplace environment changes employees approach towards the job since job and overall workplace environment has substantial effect on employees’ views about organizational management which in turn help balancing work and family life.

Several factors can influence the employees’ job performance including equipment, physical work environment, meaningful work, standard operating procedures, rewards for good or bad systems, performance expectancy, and feed-back on performance, in addition to knowledge, skills and attitudes. The physical workplace environment and its influence has been studied a lot since the environment can hinder, intervene with, or set limits on the range of work behaviours which are displayed which, in turn, potentially impacts task performance.

The factors which constitute a healthy working environment are work life balance, motivation level, psychological conditions, social dialogue, management and leadership coherence, and transparency. These factors develop a good working environment and a good working environment leads to increase employee productivity and hence organization productivity.

In a study, it has been noticed that the employees’ productivity increases if the working conditions and the workplace environment is kept upto certain threshold level and it decreases if the work load is increased from certain threshold level.

The workplace environment can be categorized into two components namely (i) physical environment, and (ii) behavioural environment. Both of these components of the workplace environment affect employees’ performance. The physical environment consists of elements which are related to the connectivity of the employees with their workplace environment. Elements which are associated with employees’ aptitudes to attach physically with the workplace environment are called as physical environment. The employees’ manners and protocols with each other are interconnected through the behavioural components of the workplace environment. The behavioural environment consists of elements which are related to the connectivity between the employees in the same workplace environment as well as the impact of working environment on the employees’ behaviour.

It has been found that when the employees are satisfied with some of the specific workplace environment factors, then these preferred factors significantly contribute to the employees’ satisfaction and their performance as shown in Fig 2.

Fig 2 Influence of workplace environmental factors on the employee productivity

In a study, employee performance has been taken as the dependent variable and other factors like an inter-personal relationship, monetary benefits, employee welfare, safety, security, training and development, formalization and standardization, participative management, objective and rationality, supervision, and scope of advancement has been taken as independent variables. The study found that the employees who are less attracted to workplace need more efforts for improving their productivity. The study also revealed that other factors like a safe working environment also significantly influence employees’ performance along with other factors.

There are several physical factors which are part of the workplace environment and which have effects on the job performance of the employees. Major factors of the physical environment component of the workplace environment consists of (i) workplace design and layout, (ii) equipment deign and quality, (iii) control room / control pulpit set up, (iv) space available for work, (v) temperature at the workplace, (vi) air quality at the workplace, (vii) lighting at the workplace, (viii) noise level at the workplace, (ix) radiation level at the workplace, (x) vibration level at the work place, (xi) housekeeping and cleanliness, and (xii) safe and healthy work conditions. Each of these factors has effect on the employees’ job performance.

Lighting and other factors like ergonomic workplace designs have been found to have positive effect on employees’ health and hence on the employees’ productivity. Convenient and ergonomic workplace designs encourage the employees and this increases their performance considerably. Unhealthy and unsafe workplace environment in terms of poor ventilation, excessive noise, inadequate lighting etc. affect employees’ productivity and health. Fig 3 shows the link between the physical workplace environment and employee productivity and job performance. The figure also shows how the temperature at the workplace affects the job performance. Some other factors such as ventilation, heating / cooling facilities, informal meeting area, general and personal storage space, and welfare facilities like drinking water facilities, canteen, and toilet block are necessary at the workplace.

Fig 3 Physical workplace environment and employee productivity

Behavioural environment components of the workplace environment include (i) creative physical environment, (ii) distraction, (iii) social interaction, and (iv) shop floor layout in terms of ease of working. It is believed that the organization’s physical environment particularly its layout and design can impact employee behaviour in a major way at the workplace. Also, it has been found that healthy behavioural workplace condition yields positive consequences on employees even if physical environmental conditions are unfavourable.

The behavioural components of the workplace environment have more impact than the physical components of the workplace environment. In the workplace environment where level of interaction is high, it supports creativity and transfer of transactional knowledge. The workplace environment positively affects the behaviour of individual employees. Thus, the superiority of workplace environment acts as an essential function in determining the level of the employees’ motivation, productivity, and performance. How well employees are attached to the organization, affects how employees behave within the organization settings which include their motivation level, innovative behaviour, absenteeism, and interaction with other employees.

Effective workplace communication is a key to the improvement in the productivity.  The organization which communicates throughout the workplace in an effective manner is more likely to avoid problems with completing the daily procedures, less likely to have a problem with improper occurrences, and generate a stronger morale, and a more positive attitude of the employees towards work. When employees communicate effectively with each other, productivity increases since effective communication means less misunderstandings and more work getting done. It removes confusion and frees up wasted time which otherwise is normally spent on explanation or argument. It makes workplace more enjoyable, with less anxiety among co-employees which in turn means positive attitude towards work and increased productivity. Furthermore, another aspect of communication which affects productivity at the workplace is the noise level. Noise has negative influence on communication, frustration levels increase while productivity decreases in relation to persistence and loudness of noise.

Employee productivity is the most significant for the organizational management and it is influenced by the workplace environment in several ways. Healthy and safe workplace environment can take a very central role in increasing productivity. Unfortunately, many of the managements consider it as an extra cost and do not spend much on maintaining comfortable workplace environment. Ergonomical design, ventilation, noise, light, line manager support, workspace, communication, health, safety, and fire safety measures have an effect on the employee productivity. Those employees who are working in insecure and unhealthy environment, are affected by the occupational diseases due to the negative influences of the environment on their performance and this affects the overall productivity of the organization.

The workplace environment impacts significantly on the employees’ job performance through different aspects. If the workplace environment in the organization does not attract the employees then they have a negative perception of the different workplace environment elements such as absenteeism, performance, stress-related illness, and productivity. This then eventually lead to reduction of their obligations to a low level which in turn affects their as well as the organizational productivity. However, if the workplace environment is friendly, safe, and trusted, it impacts employees positively and their performance, creativity, productivity, commitment, and health drive high, which also has a positive influence towards the organizational performance. Hence, the environment of the workplace enhances the results by motivating the employees.

A number of studies have been carried out on the effects of physical environment on employee contribution towards the work, employee performance, and loyalty towards the organization. It has been found that there exists a positive correlation between job satisfaction and personal judgement of the effectiveness with reference to perceived relevance to the work

There are two theories which are applicable for the job performance of the employees at the workplace. These two theories are (i) ecological system theory, and (ii) social exchange theory.

Ecological systems theory is also known as person-in-environment theory. It states that employees in a specific environment have a vibrant relationship with their social, physical and natural environment. This theory also suggests that work and life are interconnected with one part has its effect on the other part in terms of processes, time, context and time characteristics.

Social exchange theory states that the motivational process in an organization is carried out with the help of different social exchanges. This theory supports the view that the line manager builds employee trust and as a result employees are motivated which helps in developing positive attitude towards work and employee commitment level. This in turn enhances the performance levels of the employees. First the line managers normally manage human resources. They manage human recourses with the ultimate objective of attaining organizational performance. Social exchange is a process between the organization and the employees in which organizational management values employee contribution and provides them with the necessary care and makes sure that their well-being level is achieved.

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