Workplace ergonomics plays a significant role in most modern workplaces. The principle addresses issues that pose challenges that could hinder smooth and optimal workflow. With ergonomics in place, employees are placed at the company's core, with their health and comfort as the top priority. In return, the company benefits from better work performance and quality.
Current employees of organizations that had adapted to the change might feel comfortable and already used to the different feel brought by ergonomic workspaces. But new employees might find the setup a bit unfamiliar.
Depending on how your company implements their ergonomics plan, new hires might take some getting used to standing desks or ergonomic chairs. For one thing, the design of most ergonomic equipment might catch new employees unaware.
So what are the things that you could do to acclimate them into these new changes? As you go along your onboarding process, it pays off to include why workplace ergonomics are implemented in the office.
Benefits of Workplace Ergonomics
For the uninitiated, such as new employees in your company, workplace ergonomics might sound like a too-good-to-be-true concept. It might get some getting used to, but its benefits outweigh the learning curve.
So aside from being a cool concept, what are the benefits of implementing ergonomics in the workplace?
- Boost Productivity
New employees have a dozen or more things they have to learn as they go along the onboarding process. Taking the small challenges out of their way makes their transition smoother and more accessible.
The same is true once they are regular employees. The concept of workplace ergonomics is about figuring out what challenges are present in the workflow and how design could address these issues. Chronic absenteeism could be traced back to poorly designed chairs. Habitual mistakes such as oversight could stem from dimly lit office cubicles. The root causes of these causes of delay are considered very minute compared to their significant effects.
Employees work better and could accomplish more tasks when they could concentrate on their work. With proper workplace ergonomics in place, employees could improve their productivity rate.
- Improve Health
A happy, healthy employee could work better than a stressed and tired one. Workplace ergonomics go above improving productivity rates at the office. One of the longer-lasting benefits of an ergonomic workplace is better health and lifestyle.
Sitting for extended periods can be bad for our spinal health and digestive system. Our backs develop hunches that could lead to musculoskeletal diseases (MSDs). Incurring these illnesses resulting from working at a poorly designed office for years is a poor trade-off for working your best.
Ergonomics could be considered an investment in your employees' health as they help prevent the onset of MSDs.
- Promote Active Lifestyle
There are so many illnesses that could be traced to a sedentary lifestyle. Obesity and heart diseases could be traced from sitting for prolonged periods.
Through a well-thought-out design, workplace ergonomics helps employees sneak in a few minutes of activity throughout the day. Some workplaces even use standing desks and walkers to encourage a more active lifestyle for their employees.
When employees are more active, they are more fit and healthy. Their immune systems also work better, causing them to be more resistant to common colds and coughs. Their cardiovascular health improves, too. With healthier employees, absenteeism due to illnesses is reduced, and productivity is improved.
With all these holistic benefits, how do organizations introduce the concept of workplace ergonomics to their new hires?
How to Introduce Ergonomics to New Employees
- Assess Ergonomic Risks
The concept of ergonomics also considers how each one of us is unique. A new employee might have a challenge that is unique to her. Perhaps they are taller than most employees. Hence they will need a table adjusted for their height.
There might also be specific risks attached to their role in the office. An illustrator would need a light source that wouldn't distract them or hurt their eyes for long hours. This setup could be different from the HR department employee, where an excellent fluorescent overhead light could work.
All these differences and nuances provide insight on how to create an ergonomic workspace for them. It also makes employees feel valued, knowing that their management acknowledges their concerns.
- Select Appropriate Equipment
Ergonomics put special significance to customization. There is no one-size-fits-all in an ergonomic workplace. Hence, there must be equipment that might work for others, but not for the new hires. Selecting appropriate equipment by considering their unique needs helps new hires adjust easier to their roles.
In a nutshell, this activity is more about asking how you could make their roles easier for them through design and equipment. This is also a great activity to reiterate the benefits of ergonomics and why they are implemented in the workplace.
- Provide Variety to Mix-Up
Standing for extended periods might not be the easiest thing to acclimate to. Provide options to your employees. A programmable standing desk gives your new employees the option to alternate between standing and sitting. This could also be healthier for them, as standing for long periods might not be for everyone.
- Offer Continuous Training and Education
Ergonomics is not something you introduce during the first week and leave it to gather dust after. It's a concept that grows as the company or organization expands. More and more employees provide new perspectives and challenges. As such, continuous training and education are needed to keep improving the workflow in the company. As employees grow within the organization, so are their needs and risks. Workplace ergonomics is a steadily growing and highly adaptive concept that should be fostered continuously.
Workplace ergonomics can be a challenging concept to introduce to new employees, especially those without any background. Highlighting its benefits helps introduce the idea, especially its long-term health benefits that each employee could enjoy.
Placing significance in an employee's unique needs and challenges is also one way of acclimating a new employee into the concept of workplace ergonomics. Creating a safe and comfortable workplace for them is just an investment that has more benefits than risks. Both employees and the company grow together in harmony with workplace ergonomics in place.