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The environment you work in can have an impact on how well you do your job and how well you feel. Working in a safe, comfortable environment helps to keep you focused on what's important: doing your job. But if your work environment causes stress or makes you feel ill, you're likely to focus more on what's causing the discomfort than working.
A high-stress work environment can lead to health problems and work errors. These issues are compounded if employees feel pressured into skipping vacations or working through illnesses rather than taking sick days. Fatigue and frustration can set in, reducing the quality of work getting done. Safety can also be affected when mistakes become accidents. It's not just the employees who suffer from high-stress environments. Their employers are also impacted. Companies in which stress-related problems are a cultural norm could suffer financially from poor-quality work and high rates of employee turnover.
Poor air quality isn't just a problem in manufacturing or heavy-duty work sites that emit pollutants. Office buildings that are sealed up tight and rely on air circulation systems can end up circulating viruses, molds, allergens and even gases or residue from toxic cleaning chemicals. Environments with low humidity levels contribute to sinus and dry eye issues, while high humidity introduces biological pollutants. As with a high-stress environment, a work environment with poor air quality can affect the health of employees and, subsequently, their quality of work.
A noisy work environment can cause headaches in the short term. Repeated exposure over a long period of time can lead to hearing loss and heart disease. As with a high-stress environment, employees can find it hard to concentrate when noise levels reach the point where normal conversation becomes difficult, and the quality of work being done can suffer as a result.
Insufficient lighting and uncomfortable desk chairs are examples of workplace ergonomics that can lead to health problems, fatigue and reduced productivity and work quality. Poor lighting causes eye strain and can also affect employee decision making. If an employee must visually inspect products, poor lighting can lead to judging a bad product good or a good product bad. Uncomfortable desk chairs can lead to poor posture and the development of musculoskeletal disorders, which could increase health care costs and employee absenteeism.
A careers content writer, Debra Kraft is a former English teacher whose 25-plus year corporate career includes training and mentoring. She holds a senior management position with a global automotive supplier and is a senior member of the American Society for Quality. Her areas of expertise include quality auditing, corporate compliance, Lean, ERP and IT business analysis.