15 Poor Working Conditions Affecting Employee Productivity

By: Syeda Gul-e-Khansha


Workplace Management

time to read article15 minutes

article date May 21, 2021

Working conditions form the essential core of the paid work and employment relationships. In the most generic terms, working conditions cover a broad horizon of issues from working time, including hours of work, rest periods and work schedules, salary scales, and the physical and mental pressures that are also a considerable part of the workplace environment.

Bad working conditions create an atmosphere that affects the productivity of the employees. Unproductive employees tend to be lethargic and de-motivating, which slows down the organization's progress.

So, maintaining favorable work environments has proven beneficial for both the organization and the employees in the long run.

According to a report by the World Bank Group, the pandemic of 2019 is expected to bring a drastic rise in poverty with a rough estimate of 88 million to 115 million people in a year, bringing about the total to about 150 million people by the end of 2021.

Furthermore, this is extreme poverty on a global scale. Better employment opportunities need to be devised and brought forward to make this situation better.

These alarming statistics call for collective efforts to eradicate poverty and provide favorable employment terms and conditions to ensure better productivity at all levels.

Importance of a Healthy Work Environment

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Maintaining a positive and healthy work environment is essential to boost your employees' morale, retention, and, most importantly, their productivity.

A healthy work environment gives you and your employees multiple opportunities to share ideas for the betterment of the company that can further contribute to your organization's growth.

Contrary to the above, toxic work environments are also seen in multiple organizations that hinder their employees' productivity and contribute to the downfall of various organizations.

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Common Work Conditions That Affect Productivity

Working conditions are primarily the demands, the environment, and the circumstances of a job that directly impact the satisfaction and the productivity of its employees.

Various organizations are usually in a competition that offers attractive conditions to retain good resources for the company.

The most common work conditions include the following:

  • Hygiene factors
  • Health and safety
  • Remuneration
  • Employee benefits
  • Responsibility and accountability
  • Workload
  • Occupational stress
  • Work-life balance
  • Commuting and Travel
  • Organizational culture
  • Performance management
  • Job security

In the current job market, there are limited employment opportunities available and a whole lot of applicants looking forward to benefitting from them.

Ensuring productivity by your employees in such circumstances can be very challenging in poor working conditions for a very long time. It is essential to create the environment they deserve, which will benefit you for years to come.

Poor Working Conditions

Creating an efficient and comfortable workspace is not essential for the office's outlook and significantly contributes to boosting morale and making your employees more productive.

Poor and unfavorable work conditions and environment is bound to bring about an opposite picture of the employees to the forefront. Not only do they make your employees lethargic and unmotivated, but they also hinder the overall growth of your organization.

Some of the most common and most essential unwanted working conditions include the following:

  1. Poor Lighting Conditions
  2. Inefficient Processes That Hinder Growth
  3. Uncompetitive Work Culture and Disengaged Employees
  4. Lack of Innovation and Technology
  5. Workplace Politics with Unsynchronized Employees
  6. Poor Workplace Hygiene
  7. Lack of Concern for Employees’ Health and Safety
  8. Poor Employee Benefits with Low Employee Productivity
  9. Unreasonable Workloads With Additional Stress and Fatigue
  10. Lack of Recognition and Achievement on Public Platforms
  11. Poor Job Security for Growth of the Company
  12. Unstable and Unpredictable Business Continuity
  13. Unfair Terms and No Incentives of Employment
  14. No Remote Work Mindset in the Prevailing Pandemic
  15. Lack of Vision and Organizational Leadership

1. Poor Lighting Conditions

Well-lit rooms and office spaces are essential. Rooms with bad lighting can put unnecessary and unwanted stress on the eyes, which is bound to affect productivity.

Sufficient natural light or well-lit spaces even artificially make the employees perform better. Dim lighting can cause tripping and falling hazards, too, which can have devastating effects.

The environment of the workplace greatly contributes to the efficiency of the staff working there. Suppose they are provided with open spaces and rooms with good access to natural or artificial light. In that case, they tend to work more efficiently as brightness tends to add more motivational energy to people.

Bad lighting is related to multiple other factors that include as eye strain, headaches, fatigue, stress, and anxiety in more pressuring work environments. As we spend much of the day in artificial lighting, there is evidence that the lack of natural sunlight harms the body and the mind.

2. Inefficient Processes That Hinder Growth

Workplace processes are as important as any other operation of the organization. Therefore, it is crucial to keep evaluating the organization's ongoing processes, which allows you to identify the prospects of further improvement.

Running flexible operations with room for welcoming suggestions can motivate your coworkers to perform better.

3. Uncompetitive Work Culture and Disengaged Employees

Healthy competition anywhere is one of the fundamental driving forces for employees to perform better.

Your company culture directly influences employee engagement and productivity. Much of today's workforce will choose to move on to a new job if the workplace culture doesn't meet their expectations.

Just like a bad attitude, negative company culture is contagious. It lowers employee engagement and reduces productivity.

4. Lack of Innovation and Technology

This is probably the only highly essential condition, especially in the present era of COVID-19, when everything has gone online.

Every business, every entity (big or small), is digitized and is entirely dependent on smooth and updated technology that ensures connectivity at all times.

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Inefficient workplace technology also hurts productivity in a big way. Technology that's slow, outdated, or ineffective is frustrating to use.

And over time, that frustration can erode employee satisfaction and even push employees out the door.

5. Workplace Politics with Unsynchronized Employees

Office politics primarily consolidates as people taking advantage of others using their abilities, social skills, and persuasion in the work environment.

Whether the politics originate in the public sphere or between individuals within the Office, they can lack harmony and cooperation in the workplace.

Political issues can grow into a complex series of complaints on both parts as employees make claims of free speech and managers respond with charges of poor performance and lack of thorough work. This is a dimension of workplace environments that is generally unavoidable.

It should be clear that office politics must be addressed as a management concern. Ultimately, an organization is only as good as the decisions its people make.

Anything, including office politics that diminishes or obstructs their ability to make effective decisions, must be remedied for a company to succeed.

6. Poor Workplace Hygiene

A clean and hygienic environment is one of the most important selling points of office space.

Especially considering the pandemic times, the bar of hygiene and cleanliness has been kept very high. Shared office spaces and facilities generally tend to quickly spread and transmit these germs, which can harbor high levels of viruses and bacteria.

Keeping in mind the current pandemic situation globally, it is imperative for every individual, let alone a whole organization, to maintain the best of hygiene standards to ensure a good and healthy environment for its employees.

Poor hygiene standards reduce people's ability to focus on their work and trigger a negative mindset. This can affect productivity and morale.

A dirty or untidy office puts off potential clients and hires, too. People gain instant insight into your workplace culture when they step into your premises, and wrong first impressions do nobody any favors.

7. Lack of Concern for Employees' Health and Safety

An employee's health and safety significantly contribute to his well-being. A healthy worker is mostly more productive with his assigned tasks and better perform them promptly.

Similarly, safe environments are also highly essential to give your employees the boost to work more effectively and efficiently.

Poor working conditions involving your health and safety could ultimately lead to you having the right to refuse to work until your employer corrects the situation or until your employer investigates and determines that there are no safety violations.

An employer is best judged when he/she cares and is concerned about providing a healthy and safe working environment to his/her employees.

Anyone who fails to do that and is just pushed to get the work done with unsatisfied employees is bound to mess with the company's much-needed progress and productivity.

8. Poor Employee Benefits with Low Employee Productivity

Compensation and workplace benefits are given to employees in return for their services rendered, and it is often the cornerstone of a productive workforce. The quality and performance of your company's talent pool are usually directly dependent on how well you execute your employee benefits strategies.

A good package of employee benefits ensures employee retain their position in the organization. Employees will be more inclined to stay in their role, which saves potential expenses related to turnover.

Furthermore, these benefits are also a huge motivating factor for employees to strive for greater heights continuously. It offers them a reason to work hard and keep driving towards achieving the next milestone.

On the other hand, employee performance and efficiency can be drastically affected if a good compensation package is absent. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Low job satisfaction – Employees will feel under-appreciated and derive low satisfaction from their job. This may lead to discontent amongst coworkers and put a dent in workplace morale.
  2. Low productivity – Poor compensation induces low productivity. There is less motivation for employees to strive for excellence
  3. High turnover – If the reward versus effort ratio is low, employees are incentivized to cast their sights away from their current job. Employee churn incurs a hefty cost to the company (retraining, relocating, and time wasted).

9. Unreasonable Workloads with Additional Stress and Fatigue

A heavy workload is one of the primary causes of stress among employees. In a 2017 survey, 60 percent of workers said that work-related pressure increased over the past five years.

Stressing work environments have recently come out to the forefront which are neither concerned with the company’s or employee’s productivity or are they beneficial to the organization in the long run.

Serious measures need to be taken into consideration in order to minimize these exhausting work environments so that maximum productivity can be attained from the employees.

A stressed workforce can have detrimental effects on your organization as a whole. Your employees may lose their motivation, engage in conflicts and have a difficult time completing their tasks. Poor mental focus, sleep deprivation, fatigue are all common side effects of work-related stress.

According to the American Institute of Stress, 46 percent of workers cite unmanageable workloads as a significant stressor. Approximately 26 percent of employees are often or very often burned out on the job.

A heavy workload causes stress and anxiety, leading to accidents, injuries, conflicts, health issues, and poor overall performance.

10. Lack of Recognition and Achievement on Public Platforms

Employees feel happy and motivated when they know they matter and, most importantly, their work matters. And employees who are happy and motivated tend to be more industrious.

Amplifying their happiness further through acknowledging their efforts publicly or in-person is what recognition is all about.

However, employers often confuse recognition with rewards and end up associating it with extra expenses. But praising employees can be as simple as saying a simple "Well done" or "Good Job." An employee works hard to hear these words from their seniors, and you shouldn't hesitate to say them.

11. Poor Job Security for Growth of the Company

Establishing and maintaining employee job security is essentially about the company admitting that it will only be as good as the structure management has implemented.

Creating job security goes way beyond establishing a legal contract, and at the center of it is a good relationship between the employer and employees. For an employee, job security means the security of income, which will translate into reduced stress.

Job satisfaction levels decrease when an employee feels threatened by a lack of job security. A worker is filled with feelings of discontent and uncertainty when his future at the company is uncertain, which leads to resentment.

When an employee feels threatened by a lack of job security, she may stop putting the necessary effort into completing assignments and interacting with colleagues due to having no future with the organization.

12. Unstable and Unpredictable Business Continuity

Business continuity planning is essential to keep people productive during planned or unplanned disruptions, protect the business from financial losses, damaged reputation, weaken customer and partner relationships, and lose productivity.

Whether planned or unplanned, business disruptions that aren't managed effectively come at a high cost. Lost revenues, missed sales opportunities, and broken service level agreements can have a devastating financial impact. An inadequate response can harm the company's public image and the confidence of its customers and investors.

At the same time, in such unpredictable and unstable situations, employees also tend to feel threatened and insecure about their employment. Multiple questions tend to surround them with their employment situation being at stake, as the most primary one.

13. Unfair Terms and No Incentives of Employment

Management matters for the success and profitability of companies. Simple but effective management practices can improve the productivity of companies substantially.

Many of these management practices relate to an organization's structure, particularly its workflow and control. But the relationship between managers and workers is also essential.

This relationship is characterized by both the wage paid to a worker as an incentive to work hard and the worker's perception that he or she is being treated fairly.

If workers believe that their employer is acting unfairly towards them, this can significantly reduce their performance at work. Unfair behavior towards workers can be costly for the employer, even if the only directly affected workers have quit the firm.

This is important for any organization that has to accommodate economic shocks by reducing labor costs.

14. No Remote Work Mindset in the Prevailing Pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of employees worldwide transitioned to remote work. As a result, organization leaders who may have never considered allowing employees to work from home must now evolve their thinking about what it means to be productive and measure and manage productivity from afar.

Furthermore, there are still several employers that are far from accepting this concept of remote working. This mindset needs to be inculcated and accepted as early as possible, especially in these unprecedented times to ensure the smooth running of operations in companies to achieve maximum productivity.

15. Lack of Vision & Organizational Leadership

It is generally said that a unique idea is what forms the core of any successful business. Where that is quite essential, it is the vision and the leadership that builds the idea far more important to determine the success of that business.

An inspired leader who can motivate their team to perform at their full potential is much needed to create an environment within the organization, where people can achieve remarkable things even with average talent.

The majority of people generally perform only to the minimum acceptable standards. These standards could be perceived standards in their heads or generally accepted standards in the organization.

The types of leaders & mentors heavily influence an employee's success and performance, which they can observe and learn from. One of the leader's most important qualities is to motivate the team to perform to their full potential, if not beyond.

Leadership commands an even more significant role in a startup since it is difficult for new businesses to attract the best talent due to limited resources.

FAQs Concerning Poor Working Conditions

poor working conditions - img 3 As discussed in the round-up above, poor working conditions primarily contribute to the downfall of the organization as a whole. There are some of the most common FAQ’s that tend at attend the most essential concerns of both the employers and the employees.

They must be tended to as a priority to ensure a productive environment. They, primarily, include the following:

What are Poor Working Conditions?

Poor working conditions make going to work look dreadful. Poor and unfavorable work conditions and environments are bound to bring about an opposite picture of the employees to the forefront.

Not only do they make your employees lethargic and unmotivated, but they also hinder the overall growth of your organization.

In the current job market, where there are lesser opportunities and a whole lot of applicants looking forward to availing them, your top talent won't put up with poor working conditions for a very long time. It is essential to create the environment they deserve, which will benefit you for years to come.

What Are Examples of Poor Working Conditions?

The most common poor and inadequate working conditions include the following:

  1. Inadequate Space Utilization
  2. Ineffective Workplace Technology
  3. Poor Lighting
  4. Inefficient Workplace Processes
  5. A Lack of Workplace Flexibility and Balance
  6. Uncomfortable Working Conditions
  7. A Toxic Company Culture

How Do Poor Working Conditions Affect Workers?

The most seen inadequate work conditions have been mentioned above. They must be addressed as a priority as they affect the work environment and the organization's employees negatively.

May it be a lack of flexibility or outdated workplace technology, or the office space is being ill-utilized. They all contribute to de-motivating an employee from performing to his/her fullest.

Management matters the most. The employer is bound to manage the office environment and provide a good and beneficial setup for the employee and the business.

Suppose the working environment provided to the employees is discouraging for them. In that case, it is safe to say that their performance would obviously be compromised, which can harm and damage the reputation and progress of the company itself.

What Are the Main Causes of Poor Working Conditions?

In any given organization, the factors that help prolong poor pay and conditions for workers may include anything from inappropriate retailer purchasing practices to lack of transparency in the supply chain, weak government capacity to implement laws, limited representation of workers, etc.

Why Are Poor Working Conditions Bad?

Poor work conditions carry a lot of unnecessary baggage. There are many underlying problems associated with it that include under-productivity of employees, the inadequacy of maintaining quality and standards of work, etc.

In the long run, these problems hinder the much-needed productivity from completing the tasks at hand, and eventually, the company tends to suffer because of it.

Can I Sue My Employer for Poor Working Conditions?

Your first action when you face some poor working conditions that compromise your safety – or the safety of other people in your workplace – should be to talk to your supervisor.

If that supervisor doesn't effectively address your apprehensions, there is no harm in going to a higher authority and talking to your supervisor's boss. When you've gone as high as you can, you may need to speak to Cal/OSHA's enforcement branch. They'll investigate the situation.

If a safety hazard doesn't pose an imminent danger, notify your employer of the problem in writing. Your employer is not allowed to retaliate against you for reporting a safety violation. If it does, you could have an entirely different type of lawsuit.

How Do I Report Poor Working Conditions?

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Act of 1970, also known as the OSHA Act, employees and their authorized representatives have the right to file a complaint about severe hazards and request an OSHA official visit to inspect the workplace for safety and health concerns.

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Employees, representatives, and anyone else aware of severe health or safety violations in the workplace have three options to file an OSHA complaint, which are as follows:

  1. Submit online via OSHA's electronic complaint form
  2. Download a PDF complaint form and fax or mail it to your local OSHA Regional or Area Office
  3. Call the violation into your local OSHA office

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The economic and social shock presented by the Covid-19 pandemic is likely to reshape perceptions of individuals and organizations about work and occupations.

The great "work from the home experiment" may change occupational perspectives on working from home. Organizations and researchers may better understand which occupational and individual characteristics are associated with work-from-home effectiveness and better designate occupational groups and individuals to work (or not working).

Creating an efficient and comfortable workspace is essential for the Office's outlook and greatly contributes to boosting morale and making your employees more productive.

Poor and unfavorable work conditions and environment is bound to bring about an opposite picture of the employees to the forefront. Not only do they make your employees lethargic and unmotivated, but they also hinder the overall growth of your organization.

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