To What Extent Can Working Conditions Affect Well Being In The Workplace?

1643 words - 7 pages

Globalization and economic development have dramatically altered working conditions over the last decade (Towers Watson, 2014). Restructuring, a higher workload, increased use of automation and technology and the speed of change have had a significant impact on the organization as well as its employees and their well-being (Clark, 2011). Working conditions refer to the organizational structure and environment such as terms of employment, hours of work, health and safety policies, physical environment and on-site facilities like fitness and daycare centers (Schulte and Vainio, 2010). It also includes workload, job control and support from management and colleagues (Dewe and Cooper, 2012). The International Labour Organization (2009) considers Workplace Well-being to relate to all aspects of working life, from the quality and safety of the physical environment, to how workers feel about their work, colleagues, management, organizational culture, structure and policies. Employees with a high level of well-being are more productive and engaged at work (Cooper and Cartwright, 1994). However, employee well-being is subjective. Different occupations and individuals have different requirements for optimal well-being (Havlovic and Keenan, 1995). Organizational initiatives and working conditions can also impact the well-being of each worker differently. One must also consider that while employee well-being at work is impacted by working conditions, it can also be influenced by non job related factors such as personal relationships, financial issues or social issues (Schulte and Vainio, 2010). Acknowledging the distinction between overall well-being and well-being at work helps assess how well-being is affected by working conditions as opposed to outside situations (CLMS, M2 U4). Assessing well-being is not a simple task and is typically done via quantitative methods like questionnaires which are not always an accurate indicator of the situation since responses can be skewed or influenced by personal agendas (Clark, 2011). Nevertheless, research shows that there has been a decline in workplace well-being over the last few years with more employees reporting increasing levels of stress at work and lower levels of job satisfaction (Casey, 2013).

Occupational stress can greatly impact the long term health of employees (Patterson, 1997). Workplace characteristics like organizational health and safety policies, workspace design and ergonomics affect the overall well-being of employees (Hoke, 1997). Relationships with peers and supervisors are also highly influential. For example, dysfunctional behavior such as workplace aggression (Vecchio, 1995) or Type A behavioral tendencies can increase anxiety and stress levels in employees (Cooper and Cartwright, 1994). In a survey conducted by the Australian Psychological Society, employees with higher levels of well-being and lower levels of stress felt that their organization cared about their physical and mental...

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