Recently, we ran a post detailing the many reasons why we believe ergonomics should be a priority for every small business. It’s something we believe to our core, as we’ve seen firsthand just what ergonomics can do for the health and well-being not just of a company’s employees but of the entire business as well.
Still, as much as you might want to implement an ergonomic plan into your workplace, “small business” also tends to mean “small budget.” How can you make it a priority? Let’s take a look.
1. Evaluate Your Other Budgets
If your yearly budgeting strategy has mostly involved copying and pasting from last year (hey, we’re not judging), it’s time for an in-depth reevaluation. Chances are, there are numerous “must-haves” that aren’t must-have at all. Comb back over these budgets in search of items that are out of date, like software purchases that can be done now via free cloud technology. As you go, it’s also important to look for items that are essential versus those that are merely desirable. Note these items in a special column so you can see concretely just how many there are, and evaluate deeply whether or not they need to be included in this year’s budgets. Don’t worry, they can always be added back in next year if there’s room.
Last but not least, look for items that might fill the same niche as an ergonomics budget, and see if there isn’t a way to swap it out or combined these items with an ergonomics program. Let’s say, for example, that you provide your employees with a month-long gym membership every year, but you know for a fact that only one employee actually ever visits the gym. That’s wasted health money that could easily outfit your entire office with an ergonomic mouse, or perhaps even a split keyboard. Why not swap out one health-related plan no one is taking advantage of for something everyone will?
2. Make an Investment Priority List
From new product lines to that big ad campaign your marketing person has been pushing for since last December, there are plenty of long term investments to think about in the new year. But while all of them are worthy, they’re bound to differ in terms of urgency. You can find room in the budget for ergonomics simply by ranking your different investments by priority and payoff, setting later dates for investments that are important but not priority number one. In fact, doing this can help motivate your staff; after all, the harder they work, the more revenue the business brings in, the more likely they’ll be to get that new elliptical for the office come June — after the ergonomics budget has already been spent.
Still not sure how to rank it all? Put it to staff vote. After all, ergonomics is all about making employees feel validated and seen. Let them determine whether or not their own comfort matters more than a ping pong table. You’ll need there to be maximum buy-in for an ergonomic plan to work anyway, and voting is where it starts.
3. Start Small
An ergonomic plan doesn’t have to break the budget. You can keep costs low by combining purchased equipment with office hacks, like placing monitors on top of stacked books rather than buying standing desks for employees who have requested them. Additionally, opt for small, slow changes rather than overhauling everything at once. Purchase an ergonomic keyboard rather than an expensive ergonomic chair. Encourage employees to stretch at least once every hour. Hold walking meetings. Choose one ergonomic idea or intervention to try every month, and give your office a 30-day challenge. One step at a time is much more feasible anyway when it comes to changing employee behavior, and it’s a lot easier on the wallet!
4. Recruit Volunteers and Get Everyone in On it
Good ergonomic habits require a shift in behavior, so you’re going to need every person on board if you want this investment to pay off. But just because it’s a priority for you, doesn’t mean it will be for everyone else.
Try starting with a few eager volunteers to give your new ergonomic plans a whirl, with the hope that they’ll become evangelists for this new way. They should naturally tell everyone else about their experiences. But, if they need nudging, give them a chance to speak about their experiences at the staff meeting. Then arrange support groups with regular check-ins so that employees can offer each other suggestions for implementing fixes correctly.
As more and more employees begin to adopt ergonomics, make sure that company leaders do, too. Employees will feel a lot more motivated if it feels like this change is coming from within and that everyone is working hard to make it happen — even the company founder. The higher a priority it can be for everyone in the office, the more likely the investment will be to pay off.
5. Make a Surplus Action Plan
As ergonomics begins to save your company money and up your productivity rates, you very well might have more revenue coming in. Use this money either to implement those other investments you put on the back burner, or to implement even deeper ergonomic overhauls you didn’t previously have the budget for. Alternatively, try saving that money for a big employee prize. The one who goes the most ergonomic wins!
Ergonomics should be a priority for every small business, no matter what size the budget. How have you seen your ergonomic investment pay off in your small business? Let us know all about it in the blog comments.