It is important for businesses to understand how to design their workplaces and work culture with people in mind. A planned and considered approach can reap benefits in the form of improved overall performance and nurturing an enhanced climate of creativity and innovation for workers.
While every company will claim that they put their employees first, it is easy to spot the ones that actually employ a human-centric approach to their business practices, both in terms of employee happiness and business success. Therefore, let’s take some time to understand just what human factors are, their importance and how to leverage them into a more wholesome and successful workplace.
What Human Factors Should be Considered in a Business Scenario
Whether your business is office-based or involves physical labour, factory processes or logistics, there are human factors at play affecting the workforce and in turn the organization. This operational optimization is different for various business types. In warehouses, factories or other physical-labor based work, human factors could range from their health and safety, to human interaction with machines and dangers and risks associated with them. In office environments, they could involve environmental aspects (such as office space habitability) or situational aspects (such as surrounding ambient noise and interruptions).
Whatever your business, you need to critically examine your work processes from top to bottom to effectively chart out what human factors are applicable to your organization and its employees. An excellent skill that helps with this is emotional intelligence which, as we discussed in a recent blog, is a transformative skill for the modern workplace. Emotional intelligence features here heavily, allowing leaders to apply an empathy-centric approach to identifying key human factors applicable to their workplace.
Why These, or Any Human Factors Are Important
In a nutshell, human factors directly affect the efficiency, effectiveness and even the safety of your business workplace. Organizations can keep relevant human factors in their purview often design optimally – for instance, installing some sort of soundproofing in the walls if the office is located in a busy metropolitan area, or, providing regular safety training for on-site work at a dangerous facility.
Consider the outcome of sub-optimal human factors: Workers in a noisy environment aren’t productive, employees in an unsafe location may be injured and feel unenthusiastic in committing to activities that may harm them, even an office that is too cold may impact productivity and therefore becomes a valid human factor. A pilot in the cockpit of a commercial aircraft needs a certain level of comfort (environmental human factor) to be able to focus on their critical task – the importance of this factor is self-explanatory.
Only when you are able to chart the negative effects to your business resulting from a lack of consideration for human factors, can you understand their true importance.
Leveraging Human Factors For Your Operations
Referring back to emotional intelligence here for a moment, if the approach to leveraging human factors for business growth or development are from a bottom-line perspective, you run into the same issue as every business that only uses numbers and statistics to determine such outcomes. Human factors are complex and complicated, impacted by non-technical things like culture, behaviours and personalities, all things that are lost when reduced to mere numbers.
The goal of leveraging human factors must be to combine the best characteristics of human beings (skills, creativity and collaboration) with the best characteristics of your business pipelines/systems/processes in a way that eliminates excessive and unnecessary work which can lead to mistakes. For instance, any system that reduces data handling steps will reduce the chance of human error in critical operations such as accounting, finance or payroll. Any employees using such a system would have the peace of mind of reduced errors, and would therefore be productive in more ways than one: working faster because of the optimal system and working faster because of the optimal human factor (reduced stress of mistakes).
Human Factor study has been a topic of investigation in various worldwide industries for quite some time, yet even now merits careful examination before implementation. There are immense benefits to getting it right, so long as you tackle it appropriately and with the right objectives.