What heat does to productivity


HR Depts face a big task. A whole mountain of big tasks in fact. The first is recruiting excellent talent and then keeping it, but while some other stuff seems mundane by contrast, it can in fact, be a matter of life or death.

Whilst on a personal level, most of us delight in waking up to sunshine, hopeful that it will last at least stay around until the BBQ reaches the right temperature that evening. But what if you’re stuck in an office all day, or halfway up a telephone pole without relief? Human consideration aside, responsible employers should be wondering about two things; their duty of care and what does it does to productivity.

Working in high temperatures can impact an employee’s attention span and reduce their cognitive functions. This is the suggestion of a group of MPs who have urged bosses to allow staff members to go home should temperatures in the workplace reach 30C, as doing so could result in a reduction of potentially fatal accidents.

Tabled by Labour MP Linda Riordan, the radical motion has called on individuals performing particularly strenuous work to be sent away from their place of work when temperatures climb to 27C.

It was put forward that people whose visual motor tracking, cognitive function and attention span has been reduced may be more likely to be involved in accidents.

The motion stated: “Employees in a wide range of workplaces – from industrial bakeries to school classrooms – are often subjected to high temperatures which can impact seriously on their health and wellbeing.”

Stress, discomfort, irritability and headaches are some of the effects of hot working conditions, it added and the issue of Union strength to bring about changes will undoubtedly feature at this event, looking into The Future of Work. But what will it suggest as a workable solution in changing climate conditions?

Professor Cary Cooper CBE, an Honorary Fellow of the Society, Distinguished Professor of Organizational Psychology & Health, Lancaster University Management School

“It is the case that high temperatures without adequate air conditioning can adversely the cognitive and motor skills of certain types of workers in manufacturing and engineering so employers should be vigilant, talk to their staff and take acstion to prevent possible accidents. This applies to people who may also suffer from heat exhaustion as well in office environments – employers have a duty of care for the health & Wellbeing of their staff under all environmental circumstances.”

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