Keeping Employees Cool Increases Productivity, Study Finds

By Alana Smart / April 10, 2024 / Blog ,

Keeping Employees Cool Increases Productivity, Study Finds

New research from the University of Connecticut’s Korey Stringer Institute has highlighted the critical role of heat mitigation strategies in optimizing workplace productivity. The study provides valuable insights into the correlation between worker well-being and performance in hot outdoor environments, emphasizing the significance of keeping employees cool.

Industries with workers regularly exposed to high heat, such as factories, construction sites, and agriculture, have increasingly sought guidance on optimizing worker safety and productivity from KSI. Gabrielle Brewer, director of occupational safety and president of the heat safety and performance coalition at KSI, notes that scientists and experts are showing a growing interest in understanding the impact of climate change on worker health and productivity.

“There’s a lot of chatter right now amongst exercise scientists, climatologists, and everyone in between. We all want to understand how climate change is affecting workers’ health, but then also their productivity.”

Productivity in Practice

In this study, a cohort of 13 physically active individuals participated in simulated work shifts lasting 4.5 hours, replicating the harsh conditions of outdoor settings. Various heat mitigation strategies were tested, including simulated solar radiation with and without fluid intake restrictions, shade with cooling towels and vests, and a worst-case scenario with limited water access and no other heat mitigation strategies. Researchers kept track of the participants’ internal body temperature, a key clinical indicator of heat strain, skin temperature, and heart rate. Additionally, they asked the participants to rate how hot they felt, their degree of fatigue, and how hard they believed they were working.

The study identified a clear correlation between implementing comprehensive heat mitigation strategies and improving worker health and productivity. When participants experienced the “gold standard” of mitigation strategies, which encompassed unlimited water access, shaded work areas, and the use of cooling vests and towels, the results were striking.

Notably, participants exhibited a 14% increase in the completion of box lifts, indicating enhanced physical performance and productivity. Moreover, they demonstrated prolonged endurance before reaching exhaustion, reporting improved perceptions of body temperature, exertion, and fatigue. These findings underscore the significant impact of effective heat mitigation strategies on physiological well-being and job performance.

Prioritizing and Customizing Well-Being

The study’s findings call on businesses to prioritize implementing robust heat mitigation measures. By adopting a holistic approach that combines multiple strategies and keeping employees cool, employers can create environments that safeguard employee health and foster a culture of productivity.

Moreover, the study emphasizes the importance of customization and adaptability in implementing heat mitigation strategies. The findings encourage employers to tailor interventions to address specific workplace challenges and conditions. Companies can safeguard their workforce and cultivate a culture of well-being and productivity by providing adequate hydration stations, shaded rest areas, or integrating innovative cooling technologies.

The research conducted by the University of Connecticut’s Korey Stringer Institute underscores the critical importance of proactive heat mitigation strategies in optimizing workplace productivity. By investing in the health and safety of their employees and implementing tailored interventions, businesses can create environments conducive to peak performance and employee satisfaction, even in challenging heat conditions.



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