You probably know that employee engagement comes in many forms. Oftentimes, increasing engagement involves changing intrinsic factors so that working is more meaningful to the employee, but other times, it requires an outward expression of change.
Improving the ergonomics of an office is a great place to start. The term ergonomics defines the way workplaces make processes more efficient and environments more conducive for satisfying work. When people think about ergonomics, they usually consider chair design and posture.
Although it encompasses these matters, an ergonomic system is much more than that. It will change the flow of an office, improve workstations, and make work seem more meaningful.
Every department and every floor must adopt your system for it to be successful. When it is, it can significantly raise productivity and engagement in the office.
The Importance of Ergonomic Design
Organizations who implement ergonomic design almost always experience better productivity. According to Workforce research, poor productivity from health and stress related factors leads to about $576 billion lost annually for U.S. businesses. Some of this can’t be avoided, as people will get sick no matter the office layout, but employing ergonomic practices can reduce costs.
A great example of this is Deere and Company, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of farm equipment. Their laborers often kneel and bend to build machinery and make repairs. As you can imagine, this puts serious stress on workers’ backs and knee joints, causing many injuries. Their workers were also at a higher risk for carpal tunnel syndrome, thanks to the repetitive nature of the work.
In 1978, nothing had been done to improve the working conditions for their employees, and as a result, lost productivity and injury increased 31 percent. They also saw a 70 percent increase in the cost of worker’s compensation. The numbers only got worse from there, and real changes weren’t made until nearly 20 years later.
The solution was an effective ergonomic initiative, implemented near the turn of the century. Chair lifts, knee pads, proper training, and other ergonomic systems were initiated to improve worker safety and performance.
The result was an 83 percent reduction in injuries and 32 percent reduction in worker’s compensation cases. The company saved millions and their workers reported greater satisfaction at work.
This is just one example that shows the importance of ergonomic design in the office. Countless organizations have seen results just like this from the changes made in favor of this design.
Bringing Ergonomics into the Workplace
For increased revenue, decreased costs, better quality products/services, and employee engagement bring a more ergonomic system into your workplace. Organizations who have seen success in this area recommend the following practices:
1. Improve Office Flow
Office design hugely influences how employees feel about a company. Proper flow in an office decreases menial work and increases time spent on meaningful projects. For example, if the copy machine is located across the room from an employee’s workspace, it creates a disorganized feeling because employees must go out of their way to reach it. They get distracted in the time it takes to walk there and can lose motivation in that time. Moving the machine may seem like a small change, but it will make a huge difference in making your layout more efficient.
Additionally, employees might request both quiet spaces and noisy spaces to work. The first is for solitary study and vocation. The other is for collaboration and projects. Having both spaces available increases options for employees and caters to a wider audience.
2. Create Ergonomic Workstations
Most of the workforce spends their days hunched over a computer screen. This bad posture can lead to multiple health problems – but an ergonomic design can flip the tables.
Desks and chairs shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all entity. Adjustable chairs and desks better match the heights of diverse employees. They also offer the option of sit-to-stand work stations, which lets workers move their feet or stand for better posture.
3. Add Workout Equipment
Offices that can afford workout equipment in the break room should do so. Treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bikes, or walk-and-work stations promote health, loosen tight muscles, and relieve stress.
If you can’t afford expensive workout equipment in the office, offer smaller workout tools instead. Jump ropes, stretch bands, free weights, under-desk peddling stations, and similar tools can achieve the goals of larger equipment and enhance employee engagement through physical activity.