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Sound Ergonomics Increases “Bottom-Line” Productivity

Tuesday, May 18, 2010
By Anne Kramer

It is common knowledge that implementing ergonomic know-how in the workplace greatly increases worker safety, but did you know that it can significantly affect your bottom line too? It’s true; according to a study by the University of Texas Health Science Center, implementing simple ergonomic principles can increase worker productivity by up to 18%.

Improved worker morale is one result of ergonomic consideration in the workplace. We’ve all heard the expression “a happy employee is a productive employee.” Well, it’s true. It also happens that one of the most direct ways an employer can make his/her employees happy is to make them comfortable. Ergonomically speaking there are several ways to do this. Uncomfortable levels of environmental factors such as lighting and temperature are among the most common worker comfort complaints. Adjusting these factors to agreed-upon level fosters worker comfort and facilitates productivity. A study by Blue Cross Blue Shield found that implementing ergonomic designs in employee workstations, increased worker productivity by 4.4%. Furnishing work stations with common ergonomically-geared equipment such as footrests and anti-glare filters for computer monitors goes a long way toward improving morale.

The application of ergonomic understanding to the workplace can increase worker productivity in a physical sense. Because the average American office worker spends over eight hours in the workplace on a daily basis, it makes sense that designing this space to facilitate the function of workers’ duties in even the smallest of ways can add up to increased productivity and bottom-line returns. One example of commonly overlooked ergonomic considerations is designing office space to reflect workflow. If work is constantly being delivered across the office, time (and productivity) is being lost in the process. Consider designing your workspace so that work is handed next door, not down the hall.

Worker health should be of the highest priority when implementing ergonomic understanding at the office. In addition to the reduction of worker injury, attention to ergonomically-achieved worker health has the benefit of bolstering productivity by increasing overall comfort and physical productivity. Considerations such as ergonomically-designed keyboards, armrests, and chairs work toward these goals. Processor manufacturer Intel reported a 72% reduction in Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) over a 4-year period after implementing such an ergonomics program.

Implementation of these suggestions has the benefit of not only increasing worker comfort, but morale and health too. Studies show that in the short run, these are manifested in reduced absenteeism for both morale and health reasons. In the long run, the costly event of worker turnover is avoided. Each of these yields the benefit of an overall increase in bottom-line productivity.

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