While companies have tried to ensure that employees are working in environments with good ergonomics, the focus on this area is sharpening due to the labor shortage.
“If a candidate is choosing between a few jobs and one has a workplace that has been designed for employees’ well-being, ie. good ergonomics, they will likely choose that job,” explains Blake McGowan, managing consultant at Humantech.
McGowan points to the increasing standard of strong ergonomic environments that the tech industry is offering its employees as one that employers will be measured against. “A comfortable work environment is a way to excite employees,” says McGowan. “It keeps employees “present” at the workplace and that eventually leads to higher retention of talent.”
From a safety aspect, proper ergonomics is a way to minimize the future cost of injury, says McGowan. Improper ergonomics accounts for 40% of the costs of soft tissue injuries. These injuries include back and shoulder pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
And from an overall corporate perspective, the effects of proper ergonomics have been quantified says McGowan.
Here are some of the benefits:
Enhanced Product Quality: Proper ergonomic design and intervention results in reduced rates of product defects, less time spent to correct these defects, and lower costs to correct these defects.
Increased Manufacturing Performance: Proper ergonomic design and intervention reduces manufacturing task times and improves facility productivity.
Improved Employee Engagement: The ergonomic condition of the workplace reflects stakeholder’s respect for employees. To engage employees, business leaders need to simply connect one-on-one with them to establish a foundation of trust and respect. If the workplace is designed to meet people’s needs, it demonstrates the employer's commitment and enables employees to be fully engaged in the workplace.
Better Stock Performance & Corporate Social Responsibility: It is proven that companies that invest and build a culture of health by focusing on the well-being and safety of their workforce yield greater value for their investors. One study from the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found companies that have a strong safety culture outperformed others in the market by 5%. And over a 15-year period, this resulted in a 75% better financial performance.
In view of the myriad of benefits, McGowan suggestions three actions steps companies could take today to improve ergonomics at their company:
1) Create a standardized approach to ergonomics. McGowan said that technology can help companies have the same standards across all of their facilities. It’s an inexpensive way to quickly improve working conditions.
2) Make sure that the company understands the full spectrum of benefits. McGowan believes many companies are still stuck in the cost-avoidance mindset when it comes to safety. “Proper ergonomics is a business performance quality enhancing effort. There is a higher payoff from an ergonomics program than traditional employee well-being programs.”
3) The process of bringing in ergonomics is simple. McGowan points to the fact that if you “democratize” the initiative and involved all employees not just manager it will be easier to adopt. “Simplicity is often overlooked.”