With workplace perimeters extending beyond the office walls to employee’s homes and cafes, keeping employees in good shape makes $ense.
Happy employees perform better — may up to 13% better, as in the case of Oxford University’s Saïd Business School study.
In fact, happiness is not only good for employees, it is also good for business. However, several factors can come in the way of workplace happiness in the Asia Pacific region.
Aside from working longer hours than ever, employees are literally feeling the pinch — in the form of pain in at least one part of their bodies as a result of bad seating posture at work.
Long-term bad posture habits at work (and when working from anywhere) can lead to chronic pain, stiffness, and discomfort in the back and neck. It may even result in more severe conditions such as spinal misalignment. Meanwhile, improper ergonomics can contribute to repetitive strain injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, or bursitis.
Mind your work ergonomics
Thankfully, there are tangible things that employers can do to improve their employees’ seating habits and, in turn, help them become more productive.
- The first is to provide the proper tools, such as ergonomic desks and chairs, that are specifically designed to support good posture. Such furniture can be adjusted in versatile ways to allow users to have more natural and comfortable working positions, thereby minimizing strain on different parts of the body.
- Ensuring that these items are properly adjusted in terms of height and distance can help maintain alignment and reduce strain. Providing comprehensive guidelines to employees for setting up their workstations optimally is a proactive step towards enhancing workplace well-being.
- Employers should also consider well-designed business-grade work tools and peripherals. For example, when laptops or monitors are positioned too far below the eye-line, workers tend to hunch or slouch, leading to strain on the neck, shoulders, and back. The use of external monitors and webcams can help raise employees’ eyelines, improving their postures during video meetings. For comfortable teleconferencing, ensure that headsets are fully adjustable to cater to individual preferences, preventing discomfort during extended sessions.
- Finally, ergonomic mice designed to fit the natural shape of hands at rest allow users to have smoother and more natural wrist movements. Complementing these are ergonomic keyboards with a curved chassis also place users’ hands, wrists, and forearms in a more natural position, reducing muscle strain.
Work habits also affect employee well-being
Aside from providing ergonomic work equipment and environments, employers need to encourage behavioral changes and implement ergonomics-related strategies to facilitate a healthier experience at work, including:
- Taking regular breaks: Employees need to move around their workspaces every so often.
- Limit back-to-back meetings: Where possible, avoid scheduling consecutive meetings to prevent employees from spending long hours seated. Consider offering standing desks to help employees be on their feet when they have been seated for too long.
- Provide clear guidelines and support: This empowers employees to prioritize their well-being and make positive changes in their work routines.
- Offer stipends: Not all employees have access to ergonomic resources, especially in remote-working settings. In such cases, stipends allow employees to purchase their own ergonomic equipment customized to their own needs and preferences. An alternative is to offer a selection of ergonomic options in office supplies.
The case for good ergonomics
Beyond remuneration, today’s employees expect corporate wellness programs to be part of the package. In fact, such programs are increasingly becoming differentiating factors when it comes to talent recruitment and retention strategies. To attract the top talent, employers need to prioritize both happiness and long-term health.
Providing ergonomic solutions is one of the many ways that employers can meet the evolving expectations of the workforce. Such investments not only create a healthier, happier workplace, but also enhance worker productivity, reduce cost, and foster a positive work environment that ultimately contributes to the bottom-line.