Creating an environment where employees are happier and more productive can be difficult. Behaviors can be complex, and different perks can resonate differently depending on the personality of the employee. Additionally, wasting time and money as a manager or employer can end up offsetting any potential gains. However, there are some basic things that employers should do which make sure that not only are you getting the most out of your employees, but that they are happier and more alert while doing so. Overhauling the lighting in an office or warehouse might have a small initial cost, but it will certainly pay for itself over time.
Light can have a powerful effect on the human mind. One of the ways it interacts with us which is reasonably well studied is in regulating the circadian rhythm of the body. The human body is not in a state of equilibrium. As the day progresses, it will undergo temperature changes, as well as a host of other changes which can affect athletic performance, alertness, and intellectual ability. One of the major cues your body uses is the amount of light your eyes are being exposed to. As your eyes pick up light, they send signals to a small area above the normal visual pathway which is partially responsible for regulating things like sleep and waking.
Artificial lighting might seem like it is similar to natural light, but there are differences which can be hard to detect with your eyes. Because our visual systems adjust for differences in lighting automatically, we might not realize that the artificial lights we are around often have drastically different wavelengths of light than you would see in natural light from the sun. In other words, if you are spending a lot of time under artificial light, it might not have the same affect as spending time under natural light. Even if the lights appear bright, they might not work well to tell the body and brain that it is time to be awake.
One solution to this problem is to use lighting which mimics natural wavelengths. Systems which create light which matches solar light can be much more effective at helping our body’s know that they need to be awake. This can also have health benefits after, as being wide awake during the day will help your body to know that night time is the time to sleep. Keeping your employees feeling alert, healthy, and awake during their shifts will also help them to be well rested. This does not have to be done via artificial lighting, installing windows and other avenues for natural light can have the same effect. However, we understand that sometimes this is not possible.
Aside from its role in regulating circadian rhythms, lighting can also have other physiological effects. For example, the synthesis of certain vitamins such as vitamin D is dependent on your skin being exposed to light. Just as is the case with circadian rhythms, not all wavelengths will do the trick. Make sure that your office lighting contains the wavelengths in natural light which will help your employees to stay healthy. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to pain, cognitive and health issues, and osteoporosis.
Upgrading a lighting system is not only a potential upgrade for the quality of life of you and your employees, but it can also save you money more directly. As scientists and engineers make advancements in lighting technologies, newer lighting options can produce better or more reliable light sources. A great example of this is the switch over the past few decades from traditional incandescent bulbs to CFLs, and now to LED lighting. While each bulb presents a step up in initial cost, the electricity saved and the recurring cost of replacing incandescent bulbs (which burn out much more rapidly) means that over time, you will save money by switching to the newer technologies. Depending on your circumstances, you could be spending a considerable amount monthly just to keep some inefficient lighting systems running. Consult an electrician or a local expert and find out if there are better options for you.
Take the time to investigate your current lighting system. Start with a cursory inspection. Does the room feel well lit? Or does it seem dim? Make sure that task lighting is sufficient for any detailed work which needs to be done. Then, do a more thorough investigation. Figure out what type of bulbs are being used, and compare their efficiency and output to other options on the market. Look for things like reliability, energy consumption, and the wavelengths of light which are emitted. If your system appears to be working well then you know things are fine. However, if you discover that they system can be improved you know your time investigating has been rewarded. If you make the improvements that need to be made, there will almost certainly be noticeable differences, both for you and your employees.