The work environment needs are factors internal to the organization, which drive organizational performance . When these factors are present in a positive manner, they enable performance. They will hinder performance when absent. Note, however, that management can change these factors because they are all within the control of the organization. These factors are discussed below.
Clarity of roles and expectations focuses on employees knowing specifically what their roles and responsibilities are relative to their job goals and accountabilities. This means that people know how their responsibilities differ from others who are supporting the same business goal. Role confusion is a frequent barrier to performance. Another common problem is unclear expectations such as telling people to be more customer-oriented and proactive. These statements qualify as examples of fuzzy requirements.
Incentives are the rewards, both tangible and intangible, that encourage people to perform as needed. Financial bonus plans are tangible incentives; opportunities to grow and learn are nonfinancial incentives. This category requires that a positive balance of consequences exists within the organization for the performance that is expected. When there is lack of any consequence, performance often does not change. It is easy for employees to maintain the status quo when there are no consequences, positive or negative, for changing on-the-job performance.
Work systems and processes are the workflow and organizational systems within which individuals perform. These can make work performance easier and more efficient; they can also make desired performance difficult or even impossible. Geary Rummler (1995), co-author of the book Improving Performance: How to Manage the White Space on the Organization Chart, stated it quite succinctly when he said, "If you pit a good employee against a bad system, the system will win almost every time."
Access to information, people, tools, and job aids is a category of work environment needs that continues to grow in importance because people are expected to perform effectively in complex environments without a lot of day-to-day guidance. How can people perform effectively without accurate and current information or access to the type of tools required to do the job?