As businesses tackle the difficult task of managing expenses and budgets, they may be tempted to cut costs by eliminating programs related to employees. They may not realize, though, that in certain situations the return on some investment can be significant. One area in which businesses may find that they can save a great deal more money than they spend is in ergonomics. Businesses may rationalize that choosing to forego an adjustable standing desk or a few ergonomic accessories will not make that big of a difference. By doing so, however, they may actually be costing themselves more money in the end.
What is Ergonomics?
In the very simplest terms, ergonomics is the science of work. A broader definition includes that ergonomics is the science of making work more comfortable and efficient. It can relate to both products and processes. An employer that uses ergonomics will provide employees with equipment, tools, and products to make their work safer and less likely to cause injury. In addition, businesses can provide ergonomic training, rotate employees through tasks to eliminate repetitive motion injuries, and design better ways to complete tasks in a safer, more comfortable way.
How Can Ergonomics Save Money?
There are many ways in which ergonomics can help a company save money. They can be divided in to three general areas:
- Less injuries
- Improved productivity
- Increased employee morale
Ergonomics can reduce company costs by preventing injuries. Injuries often result from jobs that require awkward positions, extremes in temperature, or repetitive motions. When this happens, a business is often faced with worker compensation claims that can be very expensive. In fact, one study indicated that the cost of medical treatment, prescription drugs, and insurance premiums for each worker’s compensation claim averages to be about $14,000. When you factor in indirect costs such as investigation and legal costs, overtime to other employees while the injured employee is absent, and the cost to hire a replacement worker, the average claim may cost a company over $30,000. When looked at from this perspective, the cost to implement ergonomic programs may seem much more reasonable.
Some business consultants estimate that ergonomic improvements can increase productivity within a business by 10 to 15 percent. This is due to several factors. First, having safer, more comfortable equipment and tools may help employees make fewer mistakes thereby decreasing waste. In addition, employees may be better able to make more efficient use of their time at work. Finally, ergonomics may decrease absenteeism among employees helping companies to save money on decreased productivity and costs for other employees to work overtime to get the necessary work done.
Businesses would also be wise not to overlook the value in increasing employee morale. When employees feel valued they may be less willing to leave their jobs and have more energy to complete the tasks that are assigned to them. Businesses make a statement to employees when they are willing to spend money to make jobs safer, easier, and more comfortable. Employees in turn may feel greater loyalty which may reduce employee turnover and the associated human resource costs.
A company would be wise to keep a clear perspective of the costs versus benefits of ergonomics come budget time. In fact, businesses may find that by spending a little money on ergonomic products and programs up front they may save a great deal more money in the long run.