Every employer assumes the responsibility of ensuring that the work environment is safe for all employees, which means that it should not expose employees to any risks. Creating a safe and healthy workplace is beneficial both to the employee and to the organisation. The organisation benefits through improvement in its public reputation.
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Firms that do not focus on safety and health in the workplace attain negative publicity. In the course of executing their duties, employees pay great emphasis on workplace safety. Thus, firms that are not attentive to safety and health issues are likely to experience a challenge in their effort to attract and sustain talented employees. Ultimately, such firms might not develop sufficient competitive advantage that is associated with a strong human capital.1
Previous studies conducted during the period ranging between 2001 and 2010 reveal that employees place great emphasis on workplace safety and workplace standards. This element means that employees do not consider workplace issues such as remuneration, right to form unions, overtime pay, and annual leaves to be of great importance compared to workplace safety.
Therefore, there is a high probability of employees signing a job contracts with employers who advocate for safety and employee wellness. A survey conducted by the Conference Board in the US revealed that employees are increasingly becoming unhappy with their jobs. Only a small percentage of the parties interviewed are satisfied with their job despite their salaries being more than $50,000.
Adherence to workplace safety can play an important role in ensuring that a firm attains its desired goals and objectives. By complying with safety regulations, for example redesigning the workplace operations, firms can improve the quality of its service delivery. Ultimately, the level service delivery by employees would improve significantly improved. The ultimate effect is that the level of customer satisfaction would significantly.
To develop a strong human resource base, it is paramount for a firm’s human resource managers to consider the employees’ psychological, physical, physiological, intellectual, and social wellbeing.2 However, most firms are deficient in addressing these issues. Consequently, it is paramount for human resource managers to review their effectiveness in addressing employee safety and well-being.
After identifying the prevailing safety and health issues, it is paramount for the firms’ management teams to formulate strategies on how to make the necessary adjustment. One of the ways through which firms can achieve this goal is by developing a business improvement plan. The plan focuses on areas that a particular firm should make adjustments, the measures to be undertaken, parties to implement the desired change and the expected period within which the change should be made.
The objective of this report is to illustrate a business improvement plan that Top Builders should adopt in order to develop sufficient competitive advantage.
The report specifically targets to identify the problem faced by Top Builders in the course of its operation coupled with how it can solve the identified problem, which is possible via outlining a business improvement plan that the firm’s management team should follow. Some of the issues evaluated include employee health, safety, and well-being.
Strategic importance of workplace safety, wellbeing, and employee health
Safety, health, and wellbeing of the employee are a major issue that firm’s management teams should consider in the course of executing their duties. Dealing with these issues presents a major challenge for firms because of its complex nature. Employee workplace safety, wellbeing, and health entail various issues such as the employees’ physical, psychological, social, intellectual, and physiological wellbeing. Employees working in different industries face numerous risks.
For example, machines may injure factory workers while falling objects may injure employees of construction firms such as Yau Lee Construction Limited (Macau). Similarly, employees working in various manufacturing companies such as computer chip manufacturers may encounter dangerous chemicals and fumes.
On the other hand, employees, white-collar job employees are prone to poor quality air due to working for long hours in enclosed buildings that are not fitted with an effective ventilation system. Additionally, chemicals from the carpeting material used may result in employees suffering from infectious diseases. In addition to the above safety and health issues, employees also face job-related stress. This element illustrates that employee’s safety, health, and wellbeing issues irrespective of their economic sector.3
In a bid to succeed as long term entities, firm’s management team face the challenge of reducing the severity of workplace issues such as injuries, workplace conflicts and stress related illnesses. Improvement of quality of work life is also another major aspect that firm’s management teams should take into account in an effort to improve their operational efficiency.
Being conscious of workplace safety, employee wellbeing and safety enables firms to satisfy the needs of diverse stakeholders to some degree. They influence the effectiveness with which firm’s develop their competitive advantages. Therefore, failure to recognise these issues in firms’ operations can lead to firms’ failure. An organisation can accrue several benefits by improving the work environment. Some of these benefits include “enhanced employee retention, reduced cost of operation, and increased employee productivity”.4
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Most organisational executives associate employee remuneration with improved job performance. Despite compensation package being an extrinsic motivation tool, they have limited effect on the performance of employees. However, better workplace contributes toward increased employee motivation in addition to producing better results. Therefore, it is paramount for a firm’s management teams to take into account the behavioural and physical components of employees.
It is estimated that improving an organisation’s physical outlook significantly decreases chances of employees suffering physical injuries. This aspect translates to a 5-10 per cent increment in the level of employee productivity. Additionally, improving the physical outlook of a firm culminates in the creation of an environment conducive for working through increased interaction, formality, privacy and promoting the rate of interaction between employees.
By enhancing workplace safety, employee health, and wellbeing, organisations experience improvement in their productivity level because of a number of reasons. Firstly, reduction in incidences of illnesses and injuries result in reduction in the rate of employee absenteeism.5 Previous studies conducted reveal that employees working in construction industries such as Yau Lee Construction are likely to be absent for 12 days as a result of injuries while managers and professions are likely to be out of work for approximately 5 days.
However, the number of days that employees are absent tends to vary depending on the injury and illness. For example, fractures can force employees to stay out of work for more than 30 days. Therefore, reducing incidences of injury and illness can significantly improve an organisation’s productivity. One of the ways through which firms can achieve this objective is by providing employees with effective and adequate tools, which significantly increases the level of commitment amongst employees.
Another reason that leads to increased organisational productivity is a reduction in stress levels amongst the employees. Indoor environment has the greatest impact on employee productivity because it correlates significantly with job dissatisfaction and stress. Prevalence of workplace anxiety and stress causes employees to lose their level of concentration.
It also causes employees to engage in counterproductive activities, which result in reduced employee productivity. However, implementing strategies such as workplace re-designing can minimise work-related causes of stress. Some psychological and physical injury affects employees and thus they are underutilised ultimately.
Support business strategies
The implementation of effective safety, well-being, and health programs of the employees plays effective role in supporting business strategies. For example, by implementing such programs, organisations can attain their low-cost strategies.
This aspect arises from the fact that firms’ are safeguarded from incurring heavy cost for example in employee compensation as a result of injuries sustained in the workplace. A study conducted on the effect of reducing injuries in the workplace by redesigning the workplace revealed that a firm could incur approximately $ 1100 in redesigning the workplace. However, the long-term effect is that the firm will save $ 574,000 in rejected products.
Attracting and retaining talent
Creating a safe working environment and being conscious of employees’ workplace significantly improves the reputation of an organisation. On the other hand, firms that are unconscious of employees’ safety and wellbeing develop a negative image. Ultimately, they cannot attain a high competitive advantage that is associated with a strong workforce.
Relationship between employee safety, health and wellbeing with other HR activities
There is a strong degree of correlation between the above human resource issues and various human resource activities. Some of these activities include job analysis, training and development, collective bargaining and unionisation and performance management.6
Workplace safety, wellbeing and employees health in Top Builder’s Group Limited
Top Builders Group Limited is a firm that operates in the construction industry in Macao. The firm deals in the provision of a wide range of construction and building services. The firm was founded in 2004 and it has ventured into the international market. Currently, Top Builders operates in Philippines, Angola, and Macau.
The firm has developed sufficient knowledge and expertise with regard to the local construction industry. Additionally, it has also developed expertise with regard to forming partnerships, understanding the changes occurring in the construction industry and incorporation of innovative building design.
Another source of the firm’s strength is its reliability as evidenced by the effectiveness with which it has executed building and construction projects hence satisfying customers. The firm has also enhanced its financial capability, which increases the effectiveness with which it executes major projects.
Since its inception, Top Builders Group Limited has successfully completed landmark buildings in Macao such as the Border Gate Square, Macau Cultural Center, Macau Ferry Terminal Infrastructure, and the Macau Museum. The firm deals with a wide range of building activities such as building commercial and residential buildings, maritime work, constructing institutional buildings, wastewater treatment plants and undertaking interior designs.
The firm’s competitive advantage hinges on its strong senior staff. Over the past decade, Top Builders has managed to position itself as a reputable construction firm amongst institutional and individual customers. Additionally, the firm’s operations are guided by a set of values, which include integrity, commitment, and teamwork.
In addition to the above issues, Top Builders is committed at creating a safe working environment. The objective is to ensure that employees’ health and wellbeing are addressed efficaciously. Some of the issues that the firm focuses on include complying with health and safety regulations.
Despite the above strengths, Top Builders Group Limited has been experiencing a challenge in adhering to safety and regulation procedures.
In the course of executing their duties, Top Builders employees face numerous safety, health, and employee wellbeing issues such as falls, workplace violence, and exposure to toxic substances. Consequently, there is a need for Top Builders’ management team to formulate and implement a comprehensive business improvement plan. The plan should focus on improving employee safety, wellbeing, and health.
Role and responsibilities in Top Builders to ensure workplace safety and health
Safety and workplace is a composite phenomenon. Consequently, its attainment is dependent on commitment of the various parties involved. In the course of improving employee safety, health, and wellbeing, it is paramount for Top Builder’s management team to identify the most important roles and responsibilities. These safety and health roles and responsibilities should be divided amongst three main parties, which include line managers, HR professionals, and employees.
The firm’s line managers should ensure that they recognise the strategic consequences of failure to ensure employee safety, health, and wellbeing. Additionally, they also carry the responsibility of proactively promoting workplace safety, wellbeing, and health.
Considering the fact that they interact with employees directly, the line managers in Top Builders should encourage employees to report their opinions and suggestion regarding safety to the top management. It is also important that line managers to assist in the implementation of the safety program.
The HR professional should educate employees and line managers on the most effective strategies of promoting workplace safety.7 Additionally, they should also employee training and reward systems aimed at compensating employees in the event that they suffer from workplace related injuries, health and wellbeing issues. The HR professionals should also formulate strategies that contribute towards nurturing accurate, monitoring and recording.
On the other hand, the firms’ employees assume the responsibility of ensuring that they comply with the formulated health and safety guidelines. Additionally, the firm’s employees should ensure that they use safety equipments incorporated by the firm. The firm’s employees should also ensure that they nurture norms that promote positive behaviour that minimise incidences of workplace safety and health.
Incorporating work-life balance programs
One of the most effective strategies that Top Builders can integrate in an effort to enhance employees’ well-being is ensuring work-life balance. In addition to their job related stress, employees also face a challenge due to the general life situations such as the need to cater for their family and career needs.
As a result, they are faced by numerous obstructions in an effort to attain work-life balance. In an effort to meet their needs, some employees may be forced to work for long hours. The work environment may not accommodate employees’ personal needs with regard to time. This may be due to the incorporation of an inflexible work schedule.
Considering the fact that the non-work related issues are also important, it is vital for Top Builders to incorporate work life balance programs. Such programs are important in improving the employees’ productivity and hence the firm’s performance. Top Builders Group Limited can improve the employees’ wellbeing and safety by formulating and implementing work-life balance programs.
The firm will accrue a number of benefits by implementing a work-life balance program. Some of these benefits include employee motivation, reduction in stress levels amongst employees, business continuity, improved employee health,
There are different ways through which the Top Builders management team can implement work-life balance concepts. The firm may implement flexible working hours. Such a program will create time for employees to address their personal issues.8 There are various flexible work-options that the firm may consider incorporation.
The first strategy that the firm should consider incorporating is career breaks. The firm should design various options when employees will be out of work to address their career goals. Incorporating career goals is critical in promoting employee wellbeing because they develop a perception that the work environment is conscious of their career development.
The second alternative that the firm should consider is integrating job-sharing. Top Builders can achieve this by allocating a particular job to two or three employees. The various responsibilities associated with the particular jobs are shared amongst the identified employees. Each employee performs the allocated task on a part-time basis thus creating ample time for each employee to address his or her personal issues.
Top Builders Group Limited can also promote employee health, safety, and wellbeing by designing jobs that are characterised by varied shifts. For example, the firm may design a shift of 4-10 hours. Considering the fact that the firm’s human resource is composed of employees of diverse demographics such as gender, it is important for the management team to incorporate parental leaves.
The leaves may be paid or unpaid. Such leaves will give employees, who have families, the opportunity to be available for their families especially in the event of them having a newborn child. Therefore, the firm will promote bonding between parents and their families. Attaining work-life balance will aid in reducing stress by minimizing the workload amongst employees, and thus the level of concentration will increase significantly.9
Another strategy that the firm should consider in promoting employee health and wellbeing is incorporating an employee assistance service. The firm can achieve this by offering short-term counselling to employees free of charge. The counselling should aim at helping workers on how to deal with work-related issues and individual problems.
Top Builders should also promote work-equity and eliminate any form of harassment amongst employees, which will play an important role in minimizing employee conflicts, and thus the firm will create an environment that fosters collaboration and interdependence amongst the various departments. The ultimate effect is that the firm is able to attain a high degree of synergy in its effort to achieve its health, wellbeing and safety goals and values.
In the course of their operation, most organizations are cognizant of the benefits associated with implementing flexible working hours. Consequently, they are increasingly formulating flexible working hours in an effort to achieve work life balance. To succeed in formulating work-life balance programs, it is paramount for the firm’s management team to involve employees, which arises from the fact that employees can give ideas on the most effective way of implementing work-life balance.
Steps to be undertaken in order to promote workplace safety
In an effort to enhance employee wellbeing, safety, and health, Top Builders’ management team should formulate a comprehensive wellbeing, safety, and health improvement plan. To ensure that the plan succeeds, a number of actions should be undertaken. Some of the aspects that the firm’s management team should consider in improving workplace safety, employee wellbeing and safety are evaluated below.
Ensuring management commitment
Firstly, “the firm should formulate a program and discuss expectation and aim of the improvement program”.10 The success of Top Builders in implementing the safety program will be dependent on the commitment of the firm’s senior management. The scope of health and wellbeing program should be clearly outlined.
Additionally, the resource requirements of the program and the associated benefits should be well outlined. Therefore, the first step should entail gaining approval and support of the top management. This goal is only achievable if the top management develops a comprehensive understanding of the purpose of the safety improvement program.
During the program initiation phase, the firm should institute a workplace coordinator. Selecting a coordinator is paramount in emphasising the importance and significance of the safety program. It also encourages the relevant stakeholders’ to be concerned with implementation of the program.
The coordinator is also important in that he or she encourages the firm’s executive to allocate the necessary human resource to implement the program. The coordinate or should have a comprehensive understanding of human resource issues such as the implemented communication mechanisms, the organisational structure and resource networks. The coordinator should promote workplace safety by leading by example.
Establishing a coordination mechanism
In a bid to guarantee success of the workplace safety, health, and wellbeing program, Top Builders should constitute a coordination committee. Alternatively, the firm should constitute a new coordination committee. In a bid to ensure effective implementation of the safety, health, and wellbeing program, the firm should ensure that the committee comprises employees from different departments such as the management team, the communication staff, and representatives.
It is important for the firm to constitute a team that is representative. Additionally, “the team should have a clear understanding of terms of reference such as the program’s aims, goals, and responsibilities of every team member”.11 Additionally, the firm’s management team should have a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between employee health, wellbeing, and safety.
Conduct need assessment
Considering the importance of ensuring employee safety, wellbeing, and health in attaining competitive advantage, it is critical for Top Builders to have a better undertaking of the employees’ safety, health, and wellbeing.
This aspect will enhance the effectiveness with which it improves its safety in the workplace, which is attainable by conducting a need assessment. The assessment can be conducted at two levels, the firms level should focus on individual employee while the second level should concentrate on organisational groups such as departments.12
Conducting need assessment will enable the firm to identify safety, health and wellbeing issues that should be prioritised. There are different methods that Top Builders can consider integrating in conducting need assessment. The first method includes evaluating the workplace. This method focuses on analysing the employees’ demographic information, physical characteristics of the workplace, health status of employees and the prevailing management structures.
Secondly, the firm should conduct a workplace analysis, which entails assessing the firm’s internal strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities with regard to the firm’s safety, employees’ health, and wellbeing program. Thirdly, the firm should identify the needs and perception of the firm’s senior management team.
This need assessment should focus on soliciting the views of the top management on what, why and how the identified safety and health issues should be implemented. The assessment should also include external safety, health, and wellbeing experts.
Formulating the action plan
The program cannot contribute towards improvement of workplace safety, wellbeing, and health if it is not effectively implemented. In a bid to implement the program effectively, it is paramount for the firm to formulate a comprehensive action plan. Findings of the need assessment should form the basis of formulating the action plan.
The action plan acts as a guide on the activities that will be undertaken. Some of the issues that Top Builder’s management team should focus in the safety program include clear determination of goals and objectives, identifying the suitable strategies for implementation in order to achieve the formulated goals and objectives, identifying the facilities, resources, and expertise necessary to implement the strategy.
In the course of formulating the goals and objective of the safety program, it is paramount for the firm to prioritize on the most important goals. Additionally, it should also reflect the safety and health needs of employees. The firm should ensure that the formulated goals and objectives are in line with the identified safety needs.
Secondly, the firm should formulate strategies that align with the safety goals and objectives. The strategies should detail the specific actions that should be undertaken. The strategies formulated should contribute to attaining the desired change.
It is important for the firm’s management team to ensure that the formulated strategies target various aspects such as organisational policies, workplace environment, and positively influencing the employee behaviour. Failure to target these aspects may contribute towards the health and wellbeing program implemented being inadequate in attaining the desired objective.
Top Builders should consider the possibility of reviewing its existing safety, wellbeing, and health policies. The review will aid in identifying areas of deficiency that should be adjusted accordingly. The firm’s management team should also formulate strategies that nurture creation and development of a working environment that is conscious of employees’ wellbeing, safety, and health.
Some of these strategies should focus on improving the prevailing safety and wellbeing of employees. Top Builders should make the strategy formulation process as participatory as possible. Therefore, employees should be given an opportunity to contribute their ideas and opinions regarding the most effective method of improving safety, health, and wellbeing of employees.
Prior to implementing the formulated safety, wellbeing, and health procedures, Top Builders’ management should ensure that employees have gained sufficient knowledge and skills. Knowledge is one of the many central issues that are needed for effective change in an organisation. Failure to impart sufficient knowledge and skills regarding the intended change may lead to ineffectiveness of the implemented strategy.
Identification of the necessary expertise, resources, and facilities is critical in the process of designing the action plan. Top Builders should evaluate whether its workforce possesses these characteristics. Some of the aspects that the firm should evaluate include the safety facilities available, availability of funding resources to implement the safety program, and presence of an effective internal communication system.
If the firm does not possess these capabilities and competences internally, it should consider outsourcing externally from renowned public and private agencies. Some of the most important aspects that the firm should consider in the outsourcing process include availability of such capabilities, reputation of the agency and cost.
Firms incur substantial cost in their effort to implement business improvement plans such as employee safety, wellbeing, and health programs. Consequently, it is paramount for firms’ management teams to ensure that they have sufficient funding. The funding requirements to implement such business improvement plans such as safety, health and well being program vary.
Despite the cost of implementing such plans being high, “the cost should not act as a barrier in implementing workplace safety, health, and wellbeing”.13 Top Builders should allocate a substantial amount in its budget for implementing the safety program.
Implementation of the action plan
After formulating the action plan, the firm’s management team should ensure that the identified actions are implemented to the letter. In a bid to implement the action plan effectively, Top Builders should focus on a number of key issues. Some of the key issues that the firm should focus on in the action plan include “prioritising strategies, developing a realistic timeframe, identifying the parties who will implement the identified function and the implemented strategies will be monitored”.14
Some of the main barriers that can hinder Top Builders in its effort to implement the safety and health improvement plan include “formulation of an underdeveloped action plan, lack of sufficient human and financial resources, formulation of too many strategies to be implemented in the business plan and setting unrealistic timeframe.”15 Additionally, if the implementing team constitutes parties who do not have sufficient knowledge and experience, the implementation process may not succeed.16
Monitoring and evaluation
After the implementation of the action plan, it is important for Top Builder’s management team to formulate strategies aimed at monitoring and evaluating the progress of the actions under question. The objective of engaging in the monitoring and evaluation process is to ensure that the set objectives and goals are attained.
Top Builders should ensure that monitoring and evaluation process is undertaken continuously. Considering the importance of safety and employee wellbeing in improving the firm’s performance and competitive advantage, it is paramount for Top Builders’ management teams to undertake a comprehensive evaluation.
Two main forms of evaluations that the firm should engage exist. They include process evaluation and impact evaluation. Process evaluation should focus on analysing how the firm has been effective in formulating and implementing the process strategies. On the other hand, the impact evaluation should “evaluate the short-term and immediate effects of the strategies implemented.”17
It is important for Top Builders to undertake impact evaluation in order to determine the effectiveness with which the safety objectives and goals have been attained. Below is an action plan that the firm should follow in an effort to improve safety in the workplace.
|Action Area||Action||Responsible party||Date required|
|Seeking management commitment|| ||The firm’s top, middle, and lower level management personnel.||1st-3 rd Dec. 2012|
|Promoting safe work practices|| ||Human resource department [The firm’s human resource managers]||4th-7thDec. 2012|
|Consulting from the various parties involved such as employees.|| ||Human resource department||8th-12thDec. 2012|
|Employee training and supervision|| ||Human resource department||Continuous process|
|Reporting||The firm should ensure that employees are constantly informed of the firm’s progress with regard to its adherence on issues associated with employees’ safety, health, and wellbeing. after an incident||The communication’s department||Continuous|
|Workers compensation and return to work programs||The firm should formulate a workers’ compensation policy. The policy should focus on compensating employees for injuries suffered in the course of undertaking their duties. |
The firm should formulate a return to work-formula for employees who might have been out of work due to safety and health issues associated with the workplace.
|Human resource department||Continuous|
In bid to survive in an industry characterised by intense competition, it is paramount for Top Builders to focus on the health, safety, and wellbeing of its employees. This aspect arises from the fact that being conscious of the employees’ safety, health, and wellbeing can contribute towards improvement in the firm’s competitive advantage through improved productivity, cost reduction, and maintenance of talent in the organisation.
In a bid to achieve this goal, the firm should focus on strategies aimed at improving workplace safety. The strategies should be well formulated and implemented. The involved teams should design and adhere to an action plan in order to attain the formulated goals and objectives.
With regard to employee wellbeing, it is important for the firm’s management team to consider incorporating the concept of work-life balance. Some of the strategies that the firm should consider incorporating include flexible working hours. There are different ways through which the firm can achieve this. Firstly, the firm may formulate part-time job design to provide employees with an opportunity to address their personal issues.
Additionally, the firm’s management team should also consider incorporating monthly and annual leaves. The leaves can be paid or unpaid. Through such leaves, the firm will provide employees with an opportunity to connect with their family. Additionally, employees can utilize such leaves by developing their career.
For example, they can go back to school to enhance their education. Ultimately, such career leaves give employees the chance to develop a perception that the firm is conscious of their effort towards attaining personal career goals.
This move will aid in reducing the level of stress amongst employees hence improving their concentration and performance. In a bid to ensure that the plan is successful in attaining the intended goal, the firm should implement the suggested strategies to the letter additionally, continuous reviews should also be undertaken to ensure that there are no deviations.
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1 Demet, Leblibici, Impact of workplace quality on employees productivity: case study of a bank in turkey (Okan: University of Turkey, 2012), 56.
2 William Schliemann, Reinventing talent management how to maximize performance in the new marketplace. London: John Wiley, 2009. 83.
3 Pravin Durai, Human resource management (Sydney: Pearson Education, 2008), 74.
4 Ibid, 127.
5 Susan Jackson, Randall Schuler, and Steve Werner, Managing human resources (London: Cengage Learning, 2009), 478.
6 Eliud, Berger, The talent management: creating organisational excellence by identifying, developing and promoting your best people (Oxford: McGrawHill, 2010), 34.
7 Peter Dowling and Marion Festing, International human resource management: managing people in a multinational context (London, Thomson Learning, 2008), 234.
8 Allan Schweyer, Talent management systems; best practices in the technology solution for recruitment, retention and workforce planning (London: John Wiley, 2010), 43.
9 Allan Schweyer, Talent management systems; best practices in the technology solution (Washington: Cengage, 2010), 43.
10 Schweyer, p.111.
11 Schweyer, p.114
12 Hugh Scullion and David Collings, Global talent management (New York: Taylor and Francis, 2011), 22.
13 Pravin, p.46.
14 Schweyer, p.114
15 Schweyer, p.115
16 Peter Cheese and Elizabeth Craig, The talent powered organisation: strategies for globalisation, talent management and high performance (London: Kogan Page, 2008), 86.
17 Schweyer, p.115