Goldtouch announces its love for ergonomic interventions.
If you saw this stream across your news feed, you probably wouldn’t be all that surprised. After all, it’s not like we’ve kept our love affair with ergonomic interventions particularly well-hidden. We’ve told you why we think they’re important, what should be on your checklist as you conduct an intervention, how to make room for a good intervention in your budget, and oh so much more.
But how will you actually know whether or not that ergonomic intervention is having any effect? And, even if you do see positive results, how do you know each intervention is the best one? And how will you pinpoint areas for even more powerful tweaks and improvements?
You’ve got to measure, measure, measure, of course. It’s only through measurement that you can tell in real, concrete terms just how far you’ve come, and what you might strive for next. Let’s take a look at just what that means throughout the implementation process.
Before Your Ergonomic Intervention
There are several different but related areas to attend to throughout your ergonomic intervention.
1. Physical Pain
Ergonomics in its most obvious and straightforward form is about the relative physical pain and discomfort of each employee’s body as they move throughout the workspace. As such, ergonomic interventions, like an ergonomic keyboard, an ergonomic chair, or a standing desk, generally focus around these pain points. These may include solutions for the wrist, hands, back, neck, knees, and eyes.
To ensure your interventions are as effective as you would like, start by having your employees complete a pain inventory. Then, they articulate just where they’re hurting, and how that pain ranks on a 1 to 10 scale. You’ll also want to log any current injuries. This will help you not only to determine just which interventions are appropriate to begin with. It will also give you a starting point for evaluating pain and measuring the effectiveness of your solutions.
2. Personal Productivity
Along with the physical pain survey, it’s also useful to ask employees to evaluate their personal productivity by asking questions like:
On a scale of 1 to 10, how much does the pain you identified interfere with your daily work?
If this pain went away, would you be: much more productive, more productive, the same, less productivity, or much less productive?
It’s also a good idea to ask a few open ended questions so that the employee can tell his or her own specific story. A story about how their pain might be interfering with the specific tasks that his or her job requires.
3. Emotional Health
Not only does physical pain translate easily into psychological pain, but it can also leave employees feeling like their employers don’t care about or support them when no remedies are offered. This can lead to poor work, and a high employee turnover rate.
A few questions you might want to ask in this area:
- Do you feel like your employer cares for and advocates for you?
- Does your workspace make you feel happy, sad, or indifferent?
- Agree/disagree with the following statement: My managers care about me.
- Agree/disagree with the following statement: I feel motivated every day to do my job to the best of my abilities.
- Add as many questions as you like from here — just don’t let this important metric category fall by the wayside.
4. Bottom Line
Of course, the best way to gather continued executive support for an ergonomic intervention program is to show clear improvements to the bottom line. As this excellent article from Ergo, Inc. explores, figuring out just what to measure in this area is easier said than done for white collar positions. The best approach is to develop specific and unique metrics for each type of job. For instance, you might look at how many phone calls a customer service rep makes in an hour. Or how many emails a team lead sends in a day, or the rate at which a web design team wraps up a project. Whatever the metric, just make sure it’s specific and highly relevant to the team and to any individuals receiving the intervention.
5. Control Group
If you want to be really scientific, create a control group for each intervention, which won’t receive any immediate interventions. This will provide a good comparison measure, though you’ll want to make sure it’s only temporary so that all employees receive fair treatment.
During and After Your Ergonomic Intervention
As you launch your first ergonomic intervention, you should set regular dates to check in on how each initiative is going, as well as an end date, before you launch into your next set of interventions. Follow-up measurements can take two forms:
1. Ask the Same Questions All Over Again
This one is as intuitive as it sounds. Ask the same questions as you did at the start, and look for any improvements to the rankings.
2. Ask About Improvements
Additionally, you’ll want to measure any perceived improvements. That means asking questions like:
- On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the least and 10 being the greatest, how much better would you say you feel thanks to this intervention?
- And on a scale of 1 to 10, how much faster would you say you’re getting [specific task] done thanks to this intervention?
- “I feel that my employer supports me.” Do you: Strongly Agree, Agree, Feel Neutral, Disagree, or Strongly Disagree?
In addition to inquiring about perceived improvements, you’ll also want to ask about those specific productivity metrics you established before, like the rate of emails sent or calls answered.
Analyze Your Results
1. Graph Your Scores Over Time
You had your employees create number rankings for a reason. Now it’s time to put them into graph form. Take a look at how:
- Individual interventions fared for each individual employee
- Each intervention worked collectively for each employee
- Each similar interventions (i.e. the use of ergonomic mice) worked across all employees
- All ergonomic interventions worked across all employees
- These metrics compared to individual and company productivity rates
2. Collect Stories and Testimonials
One of the best ways to tell whether or not an ergonomic intervention is working is to simply ask your employees how they’re feeling. Ask about whether or not they feel the intervention was a success, and what they’d like to target next. Taken as a whole, this will help you not only determine effectiveness, but it will also provide insight into the employee psyche. This helps you provide better support in the future. If the bulk of employees feel that one particular kind of intervention is the best, and you are willing to provide that intervention to other employees on a mass scale in the next manifestation of your ergonomics program, that will demonstrate your deep care for your employees.
3. Compare to Wider Company Metrics
It will always be difficult to draw a straight line between ergonomic interventions and improved company performance. It’s impossible to isolate ergonomics as the sole experimental factor as a company conducts business. However, it is still useful to look at the correlative relationship between ergonomic interventions and company performance metrics. For example, like employee retention rates, increased revenue, increased product shipments, and any other metrics you might use to measure the health of your company.
Of course, there is much about ergonomics that is difficult to capture in hard data. However, even for the smallest of companies, there is much you can do to get a good sense of the effectiveness of your ergonomic interventions. This will help you determine what worked, what didn’t, and what to do next.