Friday, August 16, 2013

The Benefits of Ergonomics in the Workplace

Did you know that thousands of workers in the US each year suffer from work-related musculoskeletal disorders that prevent them from working for an extended period of time?  Do you realize that these disorders cost an average of $45-54 billion annually?!

Take a moment for that to sink in, and then go ahead and answer the following question:

Imagine you are the head of a large company.  Would you to like to have the ability to reduce worker’s compensation and healthcare costs for your company and ultimately increase the productivity of your employees??

Regardless of whether you are actually the head of a large company or at the bottom of the totem pole, I am going to assume that your answer to the above question was yes.  Consequently, I am going to tell you that in order to reduce costs and increase worker productivity in a given company, you should seriously consider the benefits of ergonomically optimizing the company’s work environment.

Now, if you have read our post titled “Ergonomics – What Is It, and Why Is It Important?”, you already know what I mean by the term ergonomics.  If you did not read this post, just know that, generally speaking, ergonomics in the workplace is the ability to maximize productivity by minimizing employee fatigue and discomfort. The goal of ergonomics is to find the best fit between an individual and the conditions of his/her work environment. With that said, let us now go over the 6 specific benefits that result from ergonomically optimizing the workplace:

Benefit #1 – Ergonomics decreases costs
For starters, we know that ergonomics aims to reduce stress on the body and eliminate injuries and disorders associated with muscle overuse, bad posture, repeated movements, and overall discomfort in the workplace.  Interestingly enough, studies have shown that approximately one-third of all worker’s compensation costs can be attributed to musculoskeletal disorders that result from the aforementioned causes.  Since the application of proper workstation ergonomics reduces the risk of developing such expensive musculoskeletal disorders, ergonomics can therefore be seen to reduce worker’s compensation and healthcare costs.

Benefit #2 – Ergonomics increases employee satisfaction
Employees notice when the company they work for makes strides to improve their health, safety, and comfort in the workplace.  If and when this happens, employees generally appreciate the efforts that are made to meet their individual needs and preferences because it makes them feel like their health and happiness matter.  Accordingly, they begin to perceive that the company they work for cares about their well-being, and they ultimately become more satisfied with their jobs.

Benefit #3 – Ergonomics increases productivity among workers
An ergonomically correct workstation is one that allows for good posture, less stress on the body, fewer repeated motions, and greater adjustability. In other words, an ergonomically correct workstation provides its users with maximum comfort which, in turn, improves health and increases happiness. This is understandable because if you are as comfortable as possible and putting less stress on your body throughout the duration of your workday, it makes sense that you will be happier and your body will be healthier than before.  Even further, it has been proven that happier and healthier employees are more productive and efficient than those who are miserable and uncomfortable on the job.  Therefore, it can be concluded that an ergonomically optimized work environment ultimately results in increased worker productivity.

Benefit #4 – Ergonomics enhances product quality
Without ergonomics, workers become uncomfortable, fatigued, and dissatisfied with the current conditions in their workplace. As a result of their discomfort and overall discontent, people who work in an office environment that fails to meet the guidelines of proper workstation ergonomics cannot do their best work no matter how hard they try.  These people will not be optimally productive.  However, once the needs of a worker’s body are met in the workplace, the chances of this individual performing his/her job to the best of his/her ability become much greater.  As soon as each worker’s individual preferences and bodily needs are satisfied through the ergonomic optimization of each workstation, product quality will improve and profits will increase.

Benefit #5 – Ergonomics improves employee involvement
In our explanation of Benefit #2, we discussed how when a company strives to meet the guidelines of proper workstation ergonomics, employees recognize their company’s concern for their well-being which makes them feel appreciated and ultimately more satisfied with their jobs.  Not only this, but once the workplace is ergonomically optimized, as long as fatigue has been reduced and discomfort has been relieved, employees will become even more content and satisfied in the workplace.  As a result of such increased worker satisfaction, employees will become more engaged and involved in their work. They will begin to want to do their job instead of just doing it out of obligation.  Successful ergonomics will also reduce turnover and improve worker morale in the long run.

Benefit #6 – Ergonomics emphasizes the importance of safety in the workplace
Last but certainly not least, a company’s interest in proper workplace ergonomics demonstrates its commitment to ensuring the health and safety of its employees.  This results in the development of a safer and healthier work environment in which employees will find themselves engaged in routines that will benefit their health and no longer put their comfort and/or safety in danger.

So overall, if you work in an office environment, it can’t hurt to introduce proper workstation ergonomics in your workplace because what could be bad about reducing costs, increasing satisfaction, improving productivity, enhancing quality, improving employee engagement, and focusing more on safety in the workplace?!

For more information about innovative ergonomic work space solutions, please visit the Ergotech website at www.ergotechgroup.com.  

Written by Julia Cavaliere – Ergotech Group, INC.
August 16, 2013