In the modern business world, people treat ergonomic design the same way they treat flossing. Everyone knows ergonomic design is important. Doctors tell us it’s critical to our long-term health. But when it comes time to buy furniture for the workplace, most businesses go the easy route, purchasing chairs and equipment that offer short-term savings at the expense of worker health and productivity.
There’s a reason this happens so often. Ergonomic office design costs money, and most businesses aren’t sure if they’ll see a positive return on this investment. Cheaper furniture seems like the smarter, safer option if you aren’t shown numbers that tell you otherwise.
Here’s the catch — those numbers exist. Not only that, they’re also more positive than most business owners and office managers would ever expect.
Ergonomics ROI for Health and Safety
Case studies on the ROI of ergonomic office design have come to different conclusions about the scale of return from ergonomic workplace initiatives. But in almost every case, businesses have seen a positive return on investment.
The biggest returns are typically seen in worker health and safety. Back, neck, and wrist problems are among the leading causes of workers’ compensation costs and productivity loss. In fact, one-third of all workplace injury and illness cases are related to musculoskeletal disorders.
Ergonomic workplace interventions have proven incredibly effective at fighting these costs. Two of the most successful examples cited by ergonomics experts come from KeySpan Energy and Blue Cross Blue Shield. KeySpan’s ergonomics interventions resulted in a 400% return on investment in health and safety savings. Meanwhile, the ergonomics program at the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island office that reduced workers’ compensation costs by 89%.
Office Ergonomics and Worker Productivity
The return on investment generated by workplace ergonomics doesn’t just come from health and safety savings. This is a common misconception within business circles. As a result, many business owners and office managers fail to recognize the productivity and profitability benefits of ergonomic workspaces.
Repeated case studies have shown that ergonomics programs are effective at increasing worker productivity in office settings. One such program by the IRS switch workers to ergonomic chairs, increasing data entry rates by 8%. A program by Singapore Airlines went a step further, with changes to seating, lighting, and workspace layout. The result was a 25% increase in keystrokes per hour.
Implementing Ergonomic Office Design
Despite this data, many workplaces are still reluctant to implement ergonomic programs. This is similar to what we see in the janitorial services industry, where many businesses underestimate the impact of workplace hygiene, air quality, and on worker health and safety, as well as worker productivity.
The good news? You don’t need to break the bank to start making your office a more ergonomic space for employees. Here are a few cost-friendly strategies to help make this possible.
- Take advantage of low-cost/high-impact ergonomic interventions, like making sure worker’s computer monitors are at the right height.
- Search for ergonomic accessories (like footrests, ergonomic computer peripherals, and keyboard wrist pads) that will make your staff more comfortable without breaking the bank.
- Consider creating an ergonomics handbook for employees or hosting an ergonomics training session. Worker education has played a key role in several successful ergonomics programs.