If you think of ergonomics as more of a corporate thing, you’re not alone. After all, the big guys are much more likely to have entire risk departments, not to mention contracts with ergonomists who help them evaluate their needs and implement an ergonomic overhaul.
But here’s the thing: ergonomics is just as important to small businesses as it is to major corporations. In fact, for small businesses ergonomics isn’t just a big money saver and productivity booster; it could very well mean the difference between struggling and thriving. Let’s take a deeper look at just why that is.
1. The Bottom Line
When you’re a small business, every penny counts. There’s no shifting funds from one big budget to cover gaps in another. There’s no lobbying the CFO to please, please, please toss a few thousand dollars more your way for that big project (partially because there is no CFO). When you’re a small business, you feel every bump in the road — and every little bit of savings helps.
But while many small businesses hunt for savings, they fail to account for ergonomics. If this sounds like you, you’re leaving yourself open to expensive risks that could take a big chunk out of your bottom line. For one, employees who feel that risk isn’t mitigated properly could press suit and OSHA could do an audit and issue fines. There are also many less tangible but still expensive costs of a non-ergonomic workplace, like low productivity rates, high absentee rates, and inefficient working styles. What’s more, employees who are focused on their pain aren’t focused on innovation, which could prevent them from brainstorming the kind of cutting edge ideas that set you apart.
While ergonomics does require an upfront investment, taking just a few preventative measures will certainly pay off in the long run. And interventions don’t even have to be that expensive. Rather than buying every employee an $4,000 standing desk, how about making your own by stacking bookshelves? Split keyboards are also a must, as are ergonomic mice and even tablet and laptop stands to bring the screen to an ideal level. With these simple solutions, just imagine how much money you’ll have left in that budget to play with!
2. Employee Retention
For small businesses, the costs of searching for, vetting, hiring, and training new employees are significant enough as it is. They become all the more so when that employee stays only for the short term, taking company knowledge and innovations with them.
What does this have to do with ergonomics? Good ergonomics sends employees a solid message of support, showing that you care about their health and well-being. That demonstration will radiate into every aspect of your business, ensuring that the people you hire will stick around and become the kind of vocal brand advocates you really need to thrive. It also makes employees more accepting of the many different hats you may ask them to wear, because they’ll feel more dedicated to the team and getting the job done.
3. Productivity Rates
As a small business, you may not have the budget to hire “efficiency consultants,” but you certainly have just as pressing a need to squeeze the most out of your efforts as any large corporation. How productive and efficient will your employees be when they’re grimacing from pain? What’s more, poor ergonomics has radiating effects across every office member, as they will have to jump on board to take on the work of any employee who must stay absent due to pain or surgery. And there’s no saying an employee who covers for someone else will be able to do that job with the same kind of competence and efficiency. In this way, poor ergonomics can really get in the way of productivity — a hit that no small business should have to take.
4. Mobile Workforces
If you think all of this is bad now, just imagine how much worse it’s going to get as more and more employees work from tiny, slim devices like smartphones and tablets. It’s something you actually need them to do — that is, work from the road, swap desk spaces in a heartbeat, and get things done even at the sidelines of their child’s soccer game. But that convenience comes with a cost. Those tiny keys are difficult to type on, and can lead to such disorders as “gorilla arm” and carpal tunnel syndrome. Craning over those small devices is also terrible for your employee’s necks and backs. What’s more, having a screen and a keyboard attached on a small touchscreen surface as they are on smartphones and tablets means that it’s impossible to place both in an ideal ergonomic position.
Impossible, that is, unless you know mobile ergonomics. In fact, the more mobile your workforce is, the better an investment in ergonomics becomes, as mobile keyboards, mobile ergonomic mice, and tablet and laptop stands will help your employees create on-the-go workstations that are comfortable and easy to use. That means they’ll be agile, productive, and comfortable, from wherever they are. What could be better?
Ergonomics is — or at least should be — just as important to small businesses as it is Fortune 500 companies. It is truly the investment that keeps paying off, many years down the line.
How have you implemented ergonomics in your small business? Let us know all about in the blog comments!