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Work Improvement in Small Enterprises (WISE)

Work Improvements in Small Enterprises (WISE) is a training program developed by the ILO to assist small and medium-sized enterprises in improving working conditions using simple, effective and low-cost techniques that provide direct benefits to owners and workers. The training emphasizes the link between good working conditions and productivity and the importance of employer-employee cooperation to achieving positive change. WISE was successfully introduced in over 20 countries in Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and Africa. To support WISE training several publications are available in multiple languages. A specific application of the WISE program is the highly successful WIND program for the agricultural sector.

WISE is highly participatory and promotes the adoption of local solutions for local problems. At the end of the training, participants build personalized action plans through the use of the WISE checklists. They are then supported to carry out and maintain planned improvements by volunteers/trainers and through the creation of a local WISE network.

WISE covers the following topics: (1) Materials storage and handling, (2) Workstation design, (3) Machine safety, (4) Control of hazardous substances, (5) Lighting, (6) Work-related welfare facilities, (7) Work premises, (8) Work organization, (9) Understanding productivity, (10) Managing and Motivating Employees, (11) Designing and managing working Time, (12) Managing Wages and Benefits, (13) Family-friendly measures, and (14) Creating a respectful workplace.

The material consists of two handbooks: a Trainer’s Guide and an Action Manual. The Trainer’s Guide gives the principles of the successful organization of the training, including preparation, training steps, detailed suggestions for lessons, activities and cases, examples for improvement, and potential questions and answers to them. The Action Manual consists of an Action checklist and examples of good practices, including motivation why.

The material is primarily meant to be used by a trainer / teacher in setting up participatory action-oriented training sessions. The Trainer’s Guide starts with an extensive description how to effectively use the manual, including tips for preparation and follow-up activities.

An introduction to the WISE program is available in English, French and Spanish. For a direct link to the manuals and other relevant material, see the Comments block below.



Original Authors:

T. Kawakami, Y. Ujita, P. Poontawesuke, J.E. Thurman, A.E. Louzine, K. Kogi

Original affiliation, ownership:

International Labour Office (ILO)

Year of publication:


Charge for use or free:

Free of charge


Target group(s):

non-OSH-expert professionals, OSH experts; or in training

Usefulness for non-OSH-expert professionals:

More or less useful for non-OSH-expert professionals in health care or other sectors; or in training

Time demand to complete the lesson or course:

several days


See also the handbooks Work Improvement and Neighbourhood Development, Ergonomic checkpoints in agriculture, and the video “Wind of Change” that are made available by the ILO. The descriptions and links can be found on this website.
Direct link to an introduction to the WISE-programme (English, French, Spanish):–en/index.htm
WISE Trainer’s Guide:–en/index.htm
WISE Action Manual:–en/index.htm

Intellectual property and copyright:

The document is under copyright of the International Labour Office, Geneva, Switzerland. Nevertheless, short excerpts from it may be reproduced without authorization, on condition that the source is indicated.
For rights of reproduction or translation, application should be made to ILO publications (Rights and Permissions), International Labour Office.

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