Most professionals understand that if you want to get the best of out the people you work with, you have to treat them well.
You need to listen actively to their concerns, express gratitude for a job well done, and be willing to compromise.
The positive momentum and enhanced morale engendered by kind and fair treatment directly lead to a more motivated and productive workforce.
Too few businessmen and women realize, however, that this gentle and considerate treatment of workers ought to encompass physical factors as well as emotional; providing an ergonomic environment can protect workers and fuel productivity in all of the following ways:
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1. Ergonomic Workstations Greatly Reduce Injury-Related Absences
While many business owners are aware of the fact that the greatest threat to productivity is employee absence due to injury, too few people know that many workplace injuries do not occur as a result of falls or lifting heavy equipment, but rather due to daily repetitive strain.
In fact, more than 40 percent of workplace injuries come in the form of sprains and strains.
Because repetitive strain injuries take a long time to develop, they also typically take a long time to treat, and can, therefore, cause the lengthy absence of skilled employees. This not only results in significant lost productivity, it often costs companies a great deal of money in the form of compensation payments.
There are other, more indirect, costs to consider as well, such as a lower rate of employee retention due to injury and discomfort, which leads to the expense of hiring and training new employees frequently and overtime pay given to staff members who are covering for absent workers.
2. Employees Who Are Given Ergonomic Workstations Feel Cared About and Are Thus More Engaged
Providing employees with an ergonomic environment shows that you take their health and wellbeing seriously, a message which has been strongly linked to increased productivity. According to a worldwide study conducted by Towers Watson, the “Single highest driver of employee engagement is whether or not workers feel their managers are genuinely interested in their wellbeing.” (Why Appreciation Matters So Much, Tony Schwartz)
When you give an employee ergonomic equipment to work with, you say to him or her, “How you feel matters to me; I want you to be happy and comfortable and I want to protect you from harm.” Some of the most famously successful companies in the world, notably Google, have mastered the creation of ergonomic and enriched workspaces in a bid to ensure that their employees have high morale and feel free to think creatively.
3. Workers Who Are More Comfortable Have More Energy and a Higher Working Capacity
Workers who are in pain often report feeling tired and drained, which makes them less able to work quickly and effectively. They must also take frequent breaks in order to stretch, walk around, or lie down in an attempt to reduce muscle strain and ease aches.
Physical pain negatively impacts mental energy, too; it's hard to feel inspired, solve problems, or generate new ideas when constantly distracted by physical discomfort.
4. Workers With Ergonomic Equipment Can Work More Quickly
Ergonomic equipment often makes an employee's work easier to do as it cuts down on repetitive motions and optimizes posture.
For example, ergonomic keyboards can help a typist to type faster and with fewer breaks, ergonomic cleaning equipment can allow cleaning personnel to clean large areas using fewer passes and without having to bend so frequently, and computer monitors which are designed to reduce eye strain allow employees to focus on their screens for longer periods of time without developing headaches (and they can read more accurately). All of this leads to greater productivity and a higher quality of work.
5. Employees Using Ergonomic Equipment Make Fewer Errors
Not only do workers concentrate better when they are not being distracted by discomfort, in industries where workers must complete demanding physical tasks, ergonomic workstations often result in fewer mistakes being made.
According to HR.BLR's article, How Business Benefits From Ergonomics, “At one business, a $400 mechanical device eliminated a $6,000 annual loss in scrap caused by employees who had been unable to consistently perform a demanding physical task. The Return on Investment was 1,500 percent.”
When one adds up the various costs incurred by failing to invest in ergonomics, it quickly becomes clear that having ergonomic equipment is not a luxury, it's a necessity.
If you're worried about the initial investment ergonomics require, try exploring options such as purchasing equipment second hand; with a bit of research, it's often possible to secure ergonomic equipment for little more the cost of conventional equipment.