Working environments become more flexible each year, with business owners hiring temporary staff for seasonal or part-time positions rather than staffing up with full-timers. While hiring flexible workers can provide a number of benefits to companies, new challenges arise, as well.
One large challenge is to create a comfortable and healthy working environment for those who will not work full time. It is just as important to provide a healthy work environment to seasonal employees as to your longest serving full-time staff. Below are several healthy work environment tips for entrepreneurs hiring flexible workers.
Defining a healthy environment
The first question to ask is, “what is a healthy work environment?” Safety, cleanliness, and happiness are the three main considerations when designing a healthy workplace. Each of these factors contributes in a large way to keep employees healthy, whether they be full-time or flexible. Each of them can also help to reduce instances of workplace injury and stress, ultimately saving time and money for employers. The sections below detail each of these topics and ways you can improve your workplace.
1. Cleanliness is key
A clean environment is a happy environment and that can reduce the number of health issues for all employees. The foremost risks are bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens that can breed in dirty environments and leave employees with illnesses that cause them to miss work. An illness caught at work can be especially troublesome for temporary employees, since they most often do not have employer-sponsored health insurance.
Aside from direct health risks, a dirty environment can be mentally stressful for all employees and can increase the risk of stress-related issues in the workplace, such as fatigue or carelessness with dangerous machinery. If you employ a large number of seasonal or part-time employees, consider hiring an office cleaning staff to make sure your flexible workers come into a clean and sanitary workplace every day.
2. Make safety easy
Workplace safety is a key factor in promoting a healthy workplace, but learning all of the safety procedures and dangerous factors in a workplace can take time and training, which seasonal employees may not have. Flexible workers require a simpler and more straightforward approach to workplace safety.
Wherever possible, try to eliminate dangers and health hazards in the workplace, rather than relying on temporary workers to be fully informed about the risks that surround them. Reduce safety risks from dangerous machinery, wet floors, faulty equipment, or dangerous workspaces as much as possible so that seasonal employees do not have to continually watch out for dangers around them. That being said, it is still important to provide basic safety training as part of the orientation process for all temporary staff.
3. Ergonomic workplace design
Future workplace design will rely heavily on ergonomics to prevent injuries related to repetitive motion, unnatural postures, and unnecessary physical strain. Invest a bit of extra money in ergonomic chairs and computer equipment, standing desks, or lighting that does not cause eye strain and headaches. Avoid making employees stand on hard surfaces for extended periods of time, or constantly performing repetitive tasks that require sharp bending or quick kneeling.
Ergonomic design can be more suited to office environments than factories, warehouses, or other environments requiring manual labor, but even in these areas, it is important to consider how the daily routine of flexible workers can impact their bodies. These considerations can help to reduce the chance of injury and serve to make employees feel less tired at the end of a work shift.
4. Happiness and health
Flexible employees don’t always have a chance to make a workplace feel like it’s their own, so it is important to create an atmosphere that encourages happiness. Bright, natural light, smiling and positive managers, plenty of fresh air, and even music can all help to create an atmosphere that makes people enjoy being at work.
Varied tasks and interesting challenges can also help to keep people engaged and feeling good about the work they do. Avoid treating seasonal employees simply as commodities, and instead, see their value to your business. With that in mind, make sure that the environment and responsibilities they are given feel comfortable and meaningful.
The tips above can help you to set your workplace apart from others as a safe and healthy environment that attracts the best seasonal, part-time, or temporary staff. These considerations can also help to minimize the costs of employee injuries and other health hazards. Even though flexible workers will not always be around for years to come, it is still vital to provide them with a workplace that will leave them happy and satisfied, which includes safety considerations. In addition to these tips, keep your eyes open for new developments in your industry to ensure your workplace is the healthiest around!
About the author: Sarah Smith is a small business owner and also a freelance writer. Aside from working on her own business, she likes to use social media, and read travel books.