Literature Review essay
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Gilad, I., & Elnekave, M. (2006). Inserting cost effectiveness to the ergonomic equation when considering practical solutions. International Journal of Production Research, 44, 5415-5441.
Work study techniques and ergonomics share a common interest as they seek to meet the operators’ capabilities. The main objective of both disciplines is to improve the efficiency of work. This is facilitated by optimal motion’s implementation in the work area. The study offers a complete design, compute results of work situations that are on-going and forecast results of improvements, as well. To achieve these goals, ergonomics must be coupled with work measurement techniques. Moreover, computer-aided tools of design should be adopted in ergonomics as well as the time-study analysis.
Over the preceding decades, ergonomics’ awareness has grown tremendously in comparison with today’s risk factors quantified. It is based on quantitative data, as opposed to hunches. Engineers concerned have become less conservative and, to some extent, they fail to accept the existing designs as important. Fortunately, they appear to dedicate more efforts than before in re-designing or designing in advance. This helps match capabilities of the operator considering the fact that the human operator may easily adapt to local stress. Therefore, many ergonomic practitioners face problems visualizing the effects that were brought about by changes in the work station’s design. Work study techniques and ergonomics are quite alike. One of aspects that makes them alike is that both were created with an aim of maximizing the work efficiency. This is derived from the definitions of both disciplines. While ergonomics is defined as the study of factors affecting the efficiency of human work, work study techniques is derived from the implementation of scientific approaches. In addition, both disciplines rely on the basics of motion economy and motion study. Despite being developed empirically, the principles are based on biomechanical, anatomical and physiological principles of the body with direct correlation with tasks.
After identifying work elements that are hazardous through the use of quantitative methods, improvements based on ergonomics are suggested. Then, the costs incurred in ergonomic improvements is designed for various re-design alternatives, thus enabling decision making with regard to investment and return on investment. Hazardous work elements should be targeted for improvement and intervention. Similarly, a layout on design improvements is developed while treating human limitations and constraints. When geometric short comings fail to permit a match between the work station and the human operator, mechanical assistance that varies in costs, performance and body posture is utilized. It is vital to select tools that are effective as far as working posture is concerned. The costs of project improvement are evaluated using a PMTS study of the proposed and existing work situations. Finally, selecting the best plan depends on the strategy of management for investing in improvement; therefore, it is unequivocal. Various improvements run investments quite fast and, as a result, they are favored.
The results are presented in the form of two case studies. In the first case study named “Stacking Aluminum Profiles”, one imposed safety on working heights and the improvements were formulated, as well. To determine the benefits of improvements, the time utilized in completing the current work situation need to be calculated using PMTS. The first improvement involved a purchase of a lift to accommodate the treatment cage. It required an investment of $5000 to break even. The second improvement offered two mechanical lifts to serve both left and right cages. This one saved eighty four TMUs per work while alleviating stress on workers. In the second case study named “Bed-Linen Box Assembly”, a normal working time was determined at 5.71 minutes, allowances at 11.8per cent and 0.68 minutes rest. The results indicate that better posture improves allowances. Moreover, the total savings per day were identified as $0.37.
Ergonomic models for redesign and analysis are time-consuming, thus, questionable. Solutions at times can be sought quickly by experienced analysts. The impact of ergonomic implementation and improvements on operations should be calculated using PMTS. This would facilitate managerial decision making. The results can only be achieved through the combination of ergonomic analysis with work measurement calculations.
Iyer, P. S., Haight J. M., Del Castillo, E., Tink, B. W., & Hawkins, P. W. (2005). A research model- forecasting incident rates from optimized safety program intervention strategies. Journal of Safety Research, 36, 341-351.
In a contemporary industry, workplace injuries, property damage incidents and safety programs formulated to prevent them are expensive as far as business operations are concerned. The workplace injuries’ costs are estimated at $146.6 billion annually. Strategies to intervene and decrease incidents while reducing costs should be designed to help increase the productivity. These interventions should include activities such as equipment and housekeeping inspections, safety training, safety behavior observations, safety training, and tailboard meetings among others. Each of them requires people’s input in terms of time, which is derived from the available work hours. Therefore, this time would be defined as the effort made by an organization according health and safety program. The management has control over the set of activities and the time allocated in their implementations. This will help in identifying the rate at which incidents occur.
To determine the effectiveness of a given intervention, one should determine mathematically the relationship between the incident rate and the intervention. After the relationship had been defined by researchers, it was manipulated mathematically to yield a design. The design reduced incident rates and, at the same time, it minimized the input in the form of human resource hours. If it was possible to forecast the incident rates with the use of an intervention activity configuration, then it would be easier to adjust the program to meet desired or expected rates outcome. Forecasting incident rates has not been explored thoroughly as far as improving intervention effectiveness is concerned. It is known that a good safety program is composed of several intervention activities. The interaction among the interventions has an effect on the incident rates. Teamwork is significant for safety excellence.
This research used Canadian company to develop analytical models capable of forecasting the incident rates. This company is called Hydro One Networks Inc. and it is responsible for clearing power lines in the whole Ontario province from the tree and branch interference. Employees’ work involves the use of bucket trucks, chain saws, climbing spikes, elevated work, and the potential exposure to electricity and heavy equipment. Two forecasting models were formulated and their performances were also compared. Researchers drew attention to how two models differed in their prediction capabilities and accuracy, with regard to incident rates observed in the system. The study shows that a significant relationship exists between the level of prevention and incidents. To represent this mathematically using programming techniques, researchers formulated a forecasting model referred to as MODEL I. In addition, it is proven that the application of an intervention has both non-permanent and non-instantaneous effect. This model used an average of the past weeks’ errors. Forecasting MODEL II was also designed using a weighted moving average of a past incident rates and one–step past error. Moving average is the difference between the data collection period and the predicted incident rate. This model predicted a forecast on the incident rate. Forecasts derived from both models were compared. The variance means that absolute mean square errors were utilized to compare the two models.
In MODEL I, it was confirmed that consequences of intervention activities are neither permanent nor instantaneous and they decrease with the growth activities. In addition, it was identified that a six-week moving average weighted equally with a stabilization of variance. This could explain the witness variation in the incident rates. A dynamic updating of solutions was done weekly by updating the model with purely new data. In MODEL II, safety and health engineers would be allowed to predict incident rates in the future. These predictions can be utilized to give the expected incident rates. It was found that estimates stabilized to their final values at the time of solutions update. This research was aimed at determining the mechanical relationship between the resulting incident rate and the level of intervention activity implemented by Hydro One’s safety and health program.
Kara, K., Kothari, J., Genaidy, A., Weckman, G., Shell, R., & Karwowski, W. (2008). Factors affecting healthcare costs in manufacturing. Human Factors and Ergonomics in Manufacturing, vol. 18, 199-211.
This study is aiming to recognize the specific areas in which an organization or company should invest in order to control or significantly reduce healthcare costs. Therefore, a model qualifies as the most significant since it would identify the major factors of healthcare costs and describe an ideal environment favorable for enacting them. This would help in offering control for company’s future expenditures as far as healthcare is concerned.
Investigations have been conducted to determine a reasonable cost model for organizations. This led to the development of a quantitative model to fix the total healthcare costs incurred by a company. Utilizations of practical models for investigating healthcare costs in organizations have proved limited due to tools deficiency. Large companies such as General Motors and Ford have been faced with a crisis due to the rising healthcare costs. Attempts to lower these costs have attracted much attention and require addressing. It is plainly evident that GM has a recurring problem with its fixed costs. Medical benefits such as healthcare and pension for retired employees are hardly hit. This totals to approximately $5 billion annually. However, the procedure used to calculate healthcare costs is not to be trusted. The company anticipated cutting the discount rate that was used to determine healthcare obligations in the future from 6.25 per cent to 6.0 per cent. Several studies have been conducted. They calculate healthcare costs from a macroeconomic perspective. Generally, macroeconomics can be used to analyze the most appropriate way to discover government policy objectives such as piece stability, economic growth, full employment and balance of payments. However, this method in particular does not cover the whole amount of the resulting costs. The healthcare costs are broken down into two categories, i.e. direct and indirect costs. Direct costs would include damage to equipment and worker compensation. Indirect costs are made up of rework and waste, retraining and supervision, lost production time and employee turnover among others. This study makes use of a case analysis method to point out the typical costs related to workplace injuries and costs of healthcare. It outlines the factors for direct or insured costs.
The research seeks to utilize data from varied sources in an attempt to capture possible factors leading to healthcare costs. The target population for this research is manufacturing companies while the outcome includes the costs of healthcare. A total of 3645 peer-reviewed articles were identified by a computerized database search. After review, additional studies were excluded due to the lack of detailed evidence that established the existence of a relationship between factors and cost of items. The model that is proposed contains insured and uninsured components. Costs can be reduced by safety interventions. However, interventions may be expensive. They are worth implementing, due to their substantial payoff,. Similarly, taxicabs and coal miners were occupations of high-risk as far as costs of healthcare are concerned. The state and federal regulatory control have a positive impact on advancing work practices the same as controlling health risks.
In conclusion, the proposed model tries to estimate the insured costs by adding to the uninsured costs. An integrated model was adopted. It contained both insured and uninsured costs. The aim was to identify a model that would include categories of cost factors, which a company must invest to reduce costs. Despite its hypothetical nature, the model helps identify both apparent and underlying factors. Therefore, it is advisable to validate the developed theoretical model in various sectors. Therefore, one can determine parameters values, which are suitable for every sector in an organization.
Leigh, J. (2011). Economic burden of occupational injury and illness in the united states. The Milbank Quarterly, 89, 728-772.
The solid aim of this particular study is to estimate the national costs of occupational illness and injuries among civilians. To realize that goal, the study calculated the costs and numbers of fatal and nonfatal injuries and illnesses. These costs would be divided into medical and indirect costs categories. The exclusive allocation of health care resources that are scarce calls for a detailed knowledge of disease costs. There is evidenced availability of studies related to various diseases. As a result, there is a little focus on work-related illness and injuries. This research provides the national costs estimates of job-related injuries and illness among United States’ civilians. It aims to provide estimates of incidents of fatal and nonfatal injuries as well as the prevalence of deadly diseases and both indirect and medical costs. Cost estimates are vital to decision makers who attempt to allocate health care resources wisely. Studies related to health costs have been conducted over the years. However, the generation of information concerning costs of occupational illness and injury has not advanced.
This study combined both primary and secondary date to come up with the estimates. The primary sources included disease, injury, and employment and inflation data. They are obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and National Council on Compensation Insurance. On the other hand, the secondary data included National Academy of Social Insurance, Attributable Fractions of Diseases associated with occupational components as well as national estimates for health care. This study applied critical model assumptions to the underreporting on wage-replacement rates, injuries and AFs. A sensitivity analysis was carried out to test the effects of most consequential assumptions. Total costs were obtained by multiplying the cases by the average cost per case. There were numerous improvements over previous studies. They include reliance on BLS data for state workers and ten cancer sites as opposed to only one broad cancer category.
The results obtained proved that a number of fatal and nonfatal injuries estimated to exceed 5600 and 8559000 at a cost of $6 billion and $186 billion respectively. The total number of fatal and nonfatal illnesses was estimated to be 53000 and 427000 respectively with costs held at $46 billion and $12 billion. For combined injuries and diseases, estimates of medical costs were $67 billion and indirect costs were $183 billion. Injuries tallied at 77 per cent of the total while diseases accounted for 23 per cent. The total estimated costs were $250 billion. The costs incurred by employers for turnover, training replacements and hiring are highly dependent on the length of time lost by injured workers. Therefore, it is easier to prevent injuries and illness as opposed to healing and medical care as far as costs are concerned. This study proved that work-related illness and injuries cost organizations a substantial amount that could otherwise be avoided through the application of preventive measures.
To sum it up, the indirect and medical costs of injuries and illness are sizable. This study had an essential role of determining the medical costs associated with work-related injuries and illness. The compensation of workers covers less than 25 per cent of the costs. Therefore, all members of the society share the burden. The contributions of work-related illness and injuries to the overall medical costs and ill health are higher than assumed. That is why, organization, companies and firms should invest more in preventive measures to curb illness and injuries in the workplace. This would be by providing safe working environment and advanced training of the staff. Once the employees are injured, job slows down. Consequently, productivity is reduced and so is the company’s profitability.
Maudgalya, T., Genaidy, A., & Shell, R. (2008). Productivity-quality-cost-safety: A sustained approach to competitive advantage - A systematic review of the national safety council’s case studies in safety and productivity. Human Factors and Ergonomics in Manufacturing, 18, 152-179.
This article is focused on three objectives. One of the aims is to recognize a possible correlation between productivity and safety. In addition, it aims to identify another possible correlation between quality and safety. Lastly, the research targets determine whether safety, a vital business objective facilitates the entire business value creation process. One will elicit whether safety provides a competitive advantage of an organization that provide business opportunities or reducing costs.
The National Occupational Employment Estimate in 2003 predicted the present day U.S. labor force to have been comprised of less than 1 per cent in forestry and agriculture. 20 per cent allocated to production construction, equipment moving and mining while 60 per cent was set aside for white-collar professions. Fortunately, today’s workforce is subjected to less hazardous jobs and safer working environment. This means that the average number of workplace injuries and deaths have decreased dramatically. Before that, the move towards higher levels of workplace safety was fueled by legislation and public policy. It was achieved through changes in technology as well as financial disincentives for safety neglect. Health and safety are perceived to be an area where money is spent with limited or no return on investment. Therefore, it is a non-profit generating cost. Traditionally, it was argued that the presence of an occupational safety and health programs have acted as both direct and indirect costs linked with worker illness and injury rates. However, the decline of injury and illness rates has successfully eliminated what had been the most obvious argument for corporate investment in Occupational Health and Safety Programs. The fact that companies have fewer injuries makes it inappropriate to argue that money utilized on workplace injury prevention and safety yields much bottom-line benefits. Sustainability paradigm is an approach used to overcome this problem. Operationalizing sustainability is a mean that builds business value and benefits the society, as well. It is usually considered as a problem of social costs and corporate eco-friendliness. This concept lays emphasis on environmental issues that could be addressed by maintaining track of both business reality and the people agenda.
This research is focused on analyzing published case studies that contained empirical evidence of the perceived correlation between safety and business variables. The search involved business and professional publications with the use of academic databases such as COMPENDEX, OSHLINE, NIOSHTIC-2 and NIOSHTIC. The outcomes of interest include improved productivity, workplace safety, quality and decreased costs. 303 articles were reviewed in this study. However, only eighteen articles included the suitable evaluation tool.
The results of this particular study showed that productivity gained from 1.5 per cent to 104 per cent, with a notable increase of 66 per cent; safety gained from 52 per cent to 100 per cent, with a notable increase of 82 per cent. The gained costs ranged from 38 per cent to 100 per cent with a considerable increase of 71 per cent, whereas quality gained 4 per cent to 73 per cent with an average of 44 per cent increase. Declines were not reported. The case studies used various measures for safety, productivity, quality performance and costs. There was a long time span allowed for the study.
On the whole, over the past period of time, Western manufacturing industries have experienced significant human resource shifts such as aging, shrinking growth, increased racial disparity, rising retirement ages, higher workers litigation and compensation costs. Poor safety conditions affect productivity and quality profoundly. The level of gains realized highly depends on how the safety precaution was undertaken. What is more, the implemented measures and the pre-existing levels of quality, productivity and cost efficiencies are dependent variables. One has to admit the desired physical attributes, required intelligence, education and training, and has acquired the desired skills and knowledge to carryout duties satisfactorily.
Morse, M., Kros, J., & Nadler, S. (2009). A decision model for the analysis of ergonomic investments. International Journal of Production Research, 47, 6109-6128.
The endeavor of this particular study is to present a model that can be utilized by a company to examine the benefits/costs tradeoffs brought about by ergonomic investments. This manuscript provides a comprehensive model that can be used by managers in comparing ergonomic investment expenses with the costs incurred by firms from employees to ergonomic-related injuries.
Ergonomics is the study of the fit that exists between employees and various items utilized by employees in their daily chores. Several psychological and anatomical considerations must be observed in relation to the design and use of objects. The incongruity evident between humans and the design is one of the major causes of repetitive stress injuries. These injuries are at times denoted as work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs). With an appropriate analysis, a firm might decide to allow employees to use tools that fuel the risk of WMSD. It might be possible to decide whether new tools should be utilized to shun worker strain, or if employees should be trained to make use of the tools they presently possess. Injuries are brought about by a combination of factors that impact on joint motion, force to be applied, rotational angle, and rate repetition as well as recovery time between repetitions. Ideally, employees should be encouraged to work in a way that minimizes the applied force on joints and apply it from a specific angle. Unfortunately, various jobs require that the activities, which make employees, contort their body in unnatural postures. Jobs that require employees to place their bodies in contorted positions indicate greater levels of fatigue. This also puts extra stress on sensitive joints leading to workplace injuries. There are many proven solutions to these problems. Modified products can be used to facilitate human motion. Examples include wrist pads and angled knife handles for computer users and poultry workers, respectively.
This research involved various considerations. Companies must analyze the roots ergonomic investment costs so as to determine whether there have been gains in productivity or reduction of costs as far as WMSD is concerned. The authors have proposed an influence diagram together with a decision tree diagram. This is a framework for quantifying potential savings acquired through ergonomic investments on a broad level. The diagram shows the influence subjected by certain variables on others within the ergonomic model. In addition, it is meant to introduce the proposed decision tree framework. The tree manifests interdependencies as sequential branches and the associated probabilities. To minimize the need to discount investment values, it is vital to understand that this specific model is designed with short periods for analysis.
Implementing both the ergonomic products and training at the same time incurs higher cost savings. Managers might be faced with different benefits/cost values. This model must be flexible in order to handle changes that are necessary to implement ergonomic training. It is capable of adapting for changes in underlying input variables. The ergonomic training cost is a common underlying factor that varies regularly depending on the nature of geographic region, firm’s business, time of the year and availability of ergonomic professionals.
Many uncertainties might complicate the decision to invest in major ergonomic solutions for the workplace. Ergonomic investment holds the potential to generate necessary cost savings for companies. Alternatively, companies could disburse ergonomic investments and receive either limited or no benefit at all. This model should be viewed as an important tool that would enable managers to utilize values as a way of simplifying the ergonomic decision process. The management team should be knowledgeable about the advantages of ergonomic programs.
Giovanis, N. (2010). The measurement of health and safety conditions at work theoretical approaches, tools and techniques a literature review. International Research Journal of Finance and Economics, 36, 88-94.
This inclusive study aims at providing information concerning the current situation and the criteria of the processes’ progress, strategies and activities, adopted by firms in a view, to keep hazards under control. It presents a basic theoretical approach to the evaluation and measurement of firm’s performance as far as H&S are concerned. The division of safety performance indicators is dependent on their timing. Proactive assessment monitors the achievement of particular preventive objectives to improve safety. The research also seeks to present an evaluation method utilized internationally with association to safety audits and inspection, monitoring of safe and unsafe character as well as safety climate. One takes into consideration other indicators such as safety programs and goals.
Traditional approaches to the professional health and safety conditions are based on administrative and legislative regulations. There have emerged enriched approaches such as the growth of the management system standards in relation to health and safety conditions. These traditional methods have been completed with evaluation techniques based on data. There are safe and unsafe behaviors, safety inspection and employees attitude towards safety among others. In terms of engineering and physics, measurement refers to the comparison process among objects or natural qualities of incidents. It is not only limited to natural qualities, but also expanded in the quantification of any kind of idea. Safety refers to activities aimed at hazard reduction and decrease of impacts caused by non-desirable events. Every measurement system makes use of one or more safety performance indicators that are at times identifies with the measurement methods. This paper presents the most vital safety evaluation and measurement methods, which consist of eight units. One of the units presents sections of safety performance indicators. The second gives the development of the performance indicators. The next units show the evaluation methods with their corresponding indicators of H&S. What is more, they examine their pros and disadvantages.
In recent years, there has been a lot of emphasis on the use of more than one safety assessment criteria. The combination of their individual results provides the comprehensive display of the safety levels of firms. It is important to use the safety performance indicators based on data collected before and after the incident. This includes evaluation of safety programs, safety climate, safe behavior and events as well as physical conditions. It is hard to gather data on close incidents. This is due to the report of managers and workers. The advantages of safety inspections include the fact that they demand the involvement of employees at all levels. They provide a direct scenario of the situation and reveal problems that should be corrected urgently. The disadvantages of safety inspection are the possible lack of knowledge of the inspector, the frequent repetition of issues and failure to uncover the cause of poor records. Specific measurable aims can be put in place for each worker improvement, protection and prevention program. A fundamental problem that occurs frequently in these indicators is that their value is not always assessed. It is difficult to estimate the cost of incidents in terms of injuries, damages and diseases.
As indicated earlier, the most vital step in selecting the appropriate method or methods is to determine the initial focus. If incidents are reduced, then it is preferable to measure the workers’ exposure to fatal situations through observation of safe behavior and safety inspection as opposed to the number of incidents. The combination of preventive methods for evaluating safety performance and traditional indicators of accidents and incidents is the most reliable and valid approach to measuring safety.
Onkham, W., Karwowski, W., & Ahram, T.Z. (2012). Economics of human performance and systems total ownership cost. Work, 4, 2781-2788.
Total Ownership Costs are significantly affected by financial costs incurred when an investment in people is made. Investing in people increases Total Ownership Costs. Both government agencies and businesses yearn to maximize their performance and reduce their running costs. To achieve this, they need to determine Human Total Ownership Costs (HTOC), which have been found to constitute the highest costs in an organization. Therefore, human factors require to be assessed together with their associated costs. The objective of this study is to establish Human Total Ownership Costs through the evaluation of various studies. Establishing these costs assist organizations in decision making and prevention of systems failure.
Managers have traditionally used Human Resource Accounting (HRA) to evaluate the economic value of people quantitatively. Consequently, organizations have been able to determine the intellectual asset of their people. In the service industry, three models related to HRA are used. These models include monetary models, cost models and HR value models. Although these models have been previously used, there are not enough evidences to back their success in the long term. By definition, Human Total Ownership Cost (HTOC) is the sum of all costs used in staffing, recruitment, training, training error and acquisition. The quantification of HTOC must include several factors such as communication effectiveness, traceability, efficacy, content quality, and risk management. Although quantifying these factors has been recommended, it is difficult to measure them both in practice and in concept. The National Air-Space System (NAS) has identified user needs and characteristics and other human factor costs as crucial consideration in all programs. NAS has also identified three human factors, estimation approaches. These approaches include parametric cost estimation, expert judgment approach and cost estimation depending on heuristic approach. Despite the complex process involved in measuring HTOC, its analysis should be done at the initial product life cycle stage to minimize uncertainty of TOC on the entire system.
There are many economic assessment models that have been developed to determine both the cost and benefits of quantifying the level of technology and uncertainty. Moreover, the models assess the costs and benefits of supporting decision makers. The cost benefit analysis model is used to compare losses and benefits that are associated with different options. In this model, the different factors must be expressed in monetary terms. The risk and cost trade-off analysis model assesses risks and costs related to different technology platforms. The technological platforms assessed using this model are those related to human performance. Expected value of the utility function analysis model is mostly used when the cost-benefit analysis and risk assessment models show high levels of uncertainty. Moreover, it is applied in decision-making where multiple alternative projects are concerned. The growth readiness matrix model is applied where the goals of an organization are to accomplish growth expectations. Therefore, this model is applied to measure availability and ease of obtaining human resources to implement strategies. The multi-attribute utility technique model is used to determine the value of alternative scenarios. The model is an effective mean of analyzing decisions for strategy problems where different factors are involved.
This article outlines background information and literature that relates to HTOC and economic assessment value models. HTOC is associated with human performance, which reveals hidden cost drivers. The different economic models have illustrated various ways of measuring human factors associated with performance. One limitation for the economic models is that no data exist relating to human factors. HTOC involves many factors, which make the economic models universally used for all organizational needs. Finally, the economic models are not acceptable on the basis of their validity, reliability and inability to be generalized.
Skrepnek, G.H., Nevins, R., & Sullivan, S. (2012). An assessment of health and work productivity measurement in employer settings. Pharmaceuticals Policy and Law, 14, 37-49.
A wide range of literature investigates the relationship between the health status of employees and costs incurred by the employers. In the recent past, the costs of healthcare have risen, prompting the need to understand the relationship between the employee health and costs incurred by employers. Employers have increased their concern over employee health through constant assessment and improving the provided care. The objective of this article is to present absenteeism and presenteeism concepts and to demonstrate the approaches used to assess work productivity that is health-related.
In Europe, about five percent of corporate payrolls cater for employees health benefits. This percentage was obtained in 2008. In 2010, the percentage increased to eight percent. On the other hand, the United States employers incur more than seven percent in employee health costs. These costs in the United States represent direct healthcare costs and costs for lost productivity. In some instances, the cost of lost productivity has been found to be more than the cost of treating a condition. Moreover, findings from various studies have found that the cost of lost productivity exceeds the cost of pharmacy and medical expenses. Presenteeism has been found to be more expansive than the absenteeism due to sickness by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. Health risks that are modifiable at the workplace also contribute significantly to productivity losses. Evaluating the impact of risk factor intervention programs can help employers implement cost-effective clinical interventions, screening initiatives and preventive care programs.
Absenteeism refers to the time an employee spends away from his/her job; while presenteeism refers to the decreased quality of work or work output. Research has found out that top five causes of decreased productivity are modifiable health risks. One modifiable risk factor can lead to a 2.4 per cent loss of employee’s productivity. Since declining health has been linked with decreasing productivity, many initiatives have been adopted to influence modifiable risk factors, thereby increasing productivity. Presenteeism has been found to carry a price more than half of all costs associated with different health conditions. Similar findings have established that the cost of presenteeism is more than the cost of treatment, absenteeism and pharmaceuticals combined.
Measuring absenteeism requires evaluation of important elements such as sick leave, compensation, personal time off, unpaid leave, family medical leave, long-and short-term disability days. In assessing presenteeism, such factors as quality of work, time not on task and quantity of work should be considered, as well. Personal factors like social, emotional, physical, mental and functional status can also influence presenteeism. There are three common methods used in productivity and health research. These methods are simulations, self reports and retrospective databases.
When developing workplace programs to mitigate effects of diseases and enhance health, it is important to understand the potential gains and losses by different stakeholders. There are barriers and challenges that impede the implementation of workplace programs. These barriers include lack of support from management, lack of interest among employees, lack of staffing resources, lack of participation among high risk employees and lack of funding. For employees to gain the maximum benefit from these programs, organizational leadership should establish health management vision, procedures and practices to focus on healthy and productive workplaces. Evaluation, measurement and decision support should accompany program initiatives so that the programs become effective.
Scientific approaches such as survey methods, simulated work settings and administrative healthcare databases can be used to assess productivity and health of people in the workplace. Assessment of the feasibility, weaknesses and strengths of each approach must consider the initiatives that will benefit the various stakeholders both inside and outside the organization.
Ram, P., Bhargavi, S.G., & Prabhakar, G.V. (2011). Work environment, service climate and customer satisfaction: Examining theoretical and empirical connections. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 2 (20), 121-132.
In the entire service industry, customer satisfaction is vital. It provides and organization with a competitive advantage. Customer satisfaction can yield the loyalty and return business. The objective of this study is to evaluate how service climate, employee engagement, employee job satisfaction and customer satisfaction are related.
Organizations that yearn to deliver excellent service need to provide and maintain service climate. Delivery of excellent service to customers is possible when employees are provided with the right environment by the organization. According to the research, work environment is a foundation upon which the climate for service is built. Service climate is comprised of the perception of employees with regard to procedures, practices and behaviors that are expected and rewarded by an organization. Service climate is achieved through proper care of internal and external clients. Giving employees the best services internally leads to the excellent services that are provided for the guests. Creating this environment involves several aspects such as proper training, rewarding and creating supportive systems for the employees.
Employee engagement is perceived to be the extent to which an employee is willing to depart beyond the normal duty to assist the organization and to achieve its objectives. During employee engagement, they are emotionally, physically and cognitively involved in their duties.
Job satisfaction is the pleasure that people feel when they appraise their jobs. Dissatisfied employees are more likely to quit their jobs as compared to those who are satisfied with their work. A case study of 7939 business units assimilated the relationships between employee engagement-satisfaction and productivity, customer satisfaction, accidents and employee turnover. The results of the study showed that a harmonious relationship exists between employee engagement-satisfaction and business unit outcomes.
Customer satisfaction is the emotional reaction expressed by customers after interacting with the seller. The satisfaction emerges when the customers feel that the seller has provided the expected standard of service and maybe even exceeded the expectation. Research has consistently pointed out that job satisfaction correlates positively with customer satisfaction.
Employee engagement is a crucial factor in reducing conflicts. For employees to perform highly and boost customer satisfaction, factors motivating them should be examined. Employee engagement leads to customer satisfaction. Consequently, customer retention is achieved. As a result, organizations reap increased revenue.
The focus of this study’s theoretical framework is service climate, which is linked with employee satisfaction, work environment, customer satisfaction and employee engagement. Service climate and employee job satisfaction were addressed first. A healthy work environment facilitates service climate. Finally, the framework led to the conclusion that service quality and productivity would emerge once employees were satisfied.
After an empirical survey on retail outlets in India, the study concluded that it is possible to tract the perceptions of employees towards the organization during service delivery. Consequently, Human Resource Department can determine the factors that motivate each individual. The insights gained from the study can be used by managers of different organizations as a basis for decision-making. Decisions on whether to train employees or recruits depend on the understanding of employee motivation, job satisfaction and relationship with the customers. In the current competitive world, matching employee engagement and customer satisfaction can be a good mechanism of surviving. Although this case provides useful insights about service climate and custom satisfaction, further studies need to be done. The results of this case were based on India’s scenario and may not be generalized in all situations.
Wang, J., & Verma, A. (2012). Explaining organizational responsiveness to work-life balance issues: the role of business strategy and high performance work systems. Human Resource Management, 51(3), 407-432.
Work-Life Balance Programs (WLBPs) have been adopted over the years in the industries. However, the rate of adoption is not uniform. Different industries adopt the programs at different levels. The main objective of this article is to examine the influence of business strategy and High Performance Work Systems (HPWSs) on adoption of WLBPs.
Two types of business strategies have been evaluated in this article to determine their effect on adoption of WLBPs. The two strategies are cost leadership and product leadership strategies. Product leadership strategy is associated with rapid growth, continuous resource development and flexible methods of production. Therefore, this strategy has high dependency levels on its workforce. Consequently, organizations using product leadership strategy are likely to adopt WLBPs so that they can motivate their employees to increase an effort. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is an example of organization that uses product leadership strategy that have adopted WLBPs. This organization provides on-site daycare programs for children and the elderly.
The cost leadership strategy strives to reduce costs in all activities. It capitalizes on mass production of goods. As such, they do not require employee commitment, but they must exploit their skills maximally. This strategy does not invest in employees and terminates them on short term bases. WLBPs invest in employees on long term bases. In this respect, cost leadership strategy limits the adoption of WLBPs. Foxconn technology group is an example of organizations that uses cost leadership strategy and eventually inhibits adoption of WLBPs. Foxconn focuses on mass production, long working hours, military management style and repetitive work schedules.
Business strategy has been found to determine whether an organization will adopt HPWS or not. Therefore, different business strategies require a different set of perceptions, attitudes and skills of the employees. Product leadership strategy requires flexible employees who are committed to quality and their work. HPWS has the ability to meet these demands by heavily investing in employees. On the other hand, cost leadership business strategy relates negatively with HPWS.
HPWS acts as the mediator between the business strategy and WLBPs. HPWSs require employees to be highly engaged with their work. To achieve this engagement, WLBPs creates the engagement so that the strategy can be implemented. WLBPs provide the engagement through investing heavily in employee recruitment, appraisals, training and motivation. Motivated employees are committed to quality and are flexible. Flexibility has been proven to be essential in the product leadership strategy since there are rapid changes in the market. Organizations need to react first to align with the changes.
This study used data from surveys conducted by statistics Canada. The study used the following dependent variables: childcare programs, recreation and fitness program, employee assistance program and other support programs. The independent variables were different aspects of business strategies.
The results of the study indicated that industry and business strategy influenced organizations’ responsiveness to HPWS and WLBPs. These results provide a better understanding of organizations’ to adopt human resource practices that are responsive. Moreover, the results established that product leadership strategy relates positively to WLBPs while cost leadership strategy relates negatively to WLBPs. HPWSs were found to mediate between strategy and WLBPs.
In conclusions, the study provided insights into the relationship between work-life balance programs and high performance work systems. The study established that high performance work systems act as a mediator between the business strategy and work-life based programs. The two business strategies used in this study were found to relate differently with WLBPs. Product leadership strategy was found to have a positive relationship while cost leadership had a negative relationship with WLBPs. Therefore, the study provided organizations with vital findings that can support decision making.
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