Emmanuelle Sangster provides insight into the sense of tailoring to your employee’s individual health and safety needs. 


Office ergonomics concern all factors that impact on the health, wellbeing and productivity of those who work in an office environment. By increasing the comfort of your employees, you may in turn find you are increasing their productivity from the mere ability to practically and comfortably carry out their workload efficiently. A few of the widespread common office ergonomic issues faced by employers include: unsuitable heights for tables, unadjustable chairs with little back support, lack of armrest and so the list goes on. Such issues have such simple solutions, yet they have proven super effective in proving to make all the difference when it comes to maintaining a high performance within the workforce. As such, Health and Work Outcomes studies found that productivity increased by 17.8% after a year when individuals were given office ergonomic training and as example were given a highly adjustable chair to use instead of perhaps a non-adjustable model.  


Re-evaluate your position

  However, such measures should not be seen as one quick fix. True to ergonomics, to evoke the best productivity from your workforce and optimise worker wellbeing, the workspace should be designed to fit the individual’s needs. We are constantly changing, adapting to different circumstances and pressures around us. Thus, a common downfall may be found in the failure to collate and review feedback from your workforce regarding such measures. Ensuring it’s not a case of “check, fix and forget” in ergonomics is crucial- the key to success is to ensure businesses are constantly re-evaluating to fit with any potential changes in the workplace.


Focus on the individual


The other week I read an article which expressed that a worker was repeatedly told to go into a different room to heat up, following air conditioning that was set to a temperature that was deemed unbearable by the worker. Instead of listening to the worker’s concerns and adapting the workplace to ensure an optimum working environment, the worker’s input was directed into seeing the worker as the issue and not the office space. Are we missing the real point?


It’s important we listen, learn and react appropriately. What happens when you try to make an office ‘extremely ergonomically’ without ultimately considering the individual? I was told once of a team of experts who were brought together to create “The World’s Most Ergonomic Chair” (Exemplis). After a long period of careful planning, designing, creating and testing, they presented it to the CEO of a company. Every week for a year metrics were taken from both the chair and the CEO- what did they find? They found that that “The World’s Most Ergonomic Chair” did absolutely nothing to increase productivity for the CEO- there was no effect. Why? Because they forgot to focus on the individual. The CEO it was realised sat on their desk for little over a half hour a day- the chair was barely any use to them. If we skim over the little details such as this, we do indeed miss the big point.


As such, listening to the individual and correctly adhering to their own individual behaviour and work is key. In addition, ensuring proactive rather than solely reactive safety management will always be the ideal. Largely invisible indirect costs of an injury, such as presenteeism, have found to be in some cases just as expensive if not more expensive than collated direct costs of an injury (CBS). Stay ahead of the game and resolve any ongoing issues previous to their consequences. When it comes to preventing office injuries, listening to your employees and their individual differences and tailoring office space to their work may do just that. In turn you may find a saving on health and safety expenses on your bottom line. Like this, we must ensure that worker’s health and wellbeing in the workplace are gaining the same attention as our financial yearly targets are. After all, workers should be recognised as the most valuable asset to a business, as they contribute to meeting the business’ financial targets every single working day.


What’s underneath it all?  


So what is it that makes this so profitable? If we look away for a moment from the benefits such as fewer injuries, increasing revenue, we look into the deeper, psychological roots. Investing in your people makes them invest in you. By investing into your employee’s wellbeing at work you may find an increase in employee engagement when employees notice the attention and care given to their health and safety in the workplace. This makes an employee feel valued and important to your business. Boosts of employee morale may ensue, with decreased levels of absenteeism amongst your workforce giving an important rise to production and quality of work. It is therefore ultimately important to recognise that good ergonomics, employee health and safety and increased revenues come hand in hand. Invest more in your people and they will in turn invest more in you. It’s great for your business and it’s great for your people- it makes total sense.


Acting Up Ltd provide a bespoke tailored health and safety training package for your workforce, focusing on the individual human element. www.actingup.co.uk Tel: 44 (0)7711697081