You may have been hearing the term “ergonomics” being thrown around lately as awareness for the advantages of workplace safety and productivity is on the rise. Ergonomics is the practice of customizing or improving an individual’s workspace for optimized comfort and productivity by reducing strain on the body.
While the first thing you might think of when you hear the term ergonomics is special desks and chairs, there are actually a lot of components to optimizing a workspace. Many of these factors are actually fairly simple like the type of mouse pad being used, the height of a monitor, or seating position but when you take the total sum of all these parts, the difference they make can be significant. As you can assume, both individuals and organizations are investing in ergonomics.
Let’s break down the reasons why ergonomics is becoming a billion dollar industry:
- It improves employee productivity.
Whether it’s a dull ache or serious pain, employees can become distracted with the discomfort that can result from poor ergonomics. The more distracted your employees are, the more time is being wasted. Meaning, you’re getting less for the labor you’re paying for. Depending on the severity of the issue, it can drastically affect the profitability of your business.
From a bottom line standpoint, neglecting to invest in ergonomics in your office space is just bad business management. If you’re seeing trends of decreasing productivity, ergonomics might be one factor you want to consider to make improvements.
- It reduces workers’ compensation expenses.
When you think of workplace injuries and workers’ comp claims, you’re likely picturing a slip-and-fall accident or someone getting hurt during construction. However, these accidents aren’t the only way employees can be harmed in the workplace. In fact, many individuals develop painful injuries while working at their desk including carpal tunnel and other musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), eye strain, back pain, and neck problems.
While the need to engage in repetitive motions or heavy lifting might be an inevitable part of the position, proper ergonomics can reduce the strain that these job functions have on the body, especially over a long period of time.
These injuries and their related claims can cost your company significantly over the years. As such, many companies are dedicating resources to ergonomics in an effort to reduce the instances of these injuries.
- It can contribute to employee morale and engagement.
In addition to perks like employee events and competitive benefits packages, focusing on ergonomics can help improve employee loyalty and engagement. How? Well, the thought process is that if employees see you investing in their health and overall well-being in the workplace, they feel cared for, and in return, will be more inclined to be engaged with their responsibilities at the office. Plus, if employees aren’t in pain while trying to complete their work, they’ll likely be in a better mood which benefits the overall office morale.
Basically, investing in ergonomics is a win-win situation.
How to Improve Ergonomics at Your Office
So, now that you know how important ergonomics is to your employees’ health and your bottom line, here’s how you can improve ergonomics at your office.
- Make sure monitors are placed 16-29 inches away from users.
- Use tilted keyboards so that employees’ arms remain straight while typing.
- Purchase sit-to-stand desks so that the surface level can be easily adjusted and employees do not have to sit all day.
- Chairs should have lower back support and be positioned in a way that the knees are bent at a 90 degree angle with feet planted flat on the ground.
- Frequently used items should be easily within reach to avoid unnecessary stretching and bending.
- Headsets should be worn by employees that speak on the phone frequently so that they aren’t bending their neck to hold their phone.
- Purchase mouse pads that provide wrist support.
- If a job requires heavy lifting, lift assists should be provided.
In general, improving the ergonomics of your workplace may take some adjustments and financial investment but in the long run, the benefits far outweigh the costs. If budget is a concern, especially if you have a lot of employees, slowly integrate these improvements throughout your office.