Do ergonomics in the workplace really affect employee retention? The answer is yes - and here’s how to increase your retention rate.
Working for a living has, at its most fundamental level, changed dramatically just in the past 20 years. To quote Stephanie Denning from a piece she wrote for Forbes, “Jobs used to be a transactional affair. Today, we want a ‘career of feeling.’ One recent discussion I had with a baby boomer explained that 50 years ago, ‘People didn’t expect to find meaning in a job.’ Today, they do.”
‘People didn’t expect to find meaning in a job.’ Today, they do.”
Workers today want meaning beyond a paycheck in their work. A lot of job hopping - especially by millennials - is a direct result of not getting that sense of fulfillment. Consider this research from Quantum Workplace as a quantitative example of this problem:
More than half a million workers, from more than 8,700 companies, were surveyed to test engagement with their work. The 26 - 35 age group - Millennials - was the least engaged of all the workers polled. Only 67.3% of millennials responded as being engaged with their work.
While different incentive programs - like Google’s great maternity leave and onsite health packages - work well for larger companies, smaller companies usually don’t have the capital for those types of perks.
What’s truly interesting, though, is how changing the culture of ergonomics in the workplace in your office can skyrocket employee retention. It’s a more affordable, simple method to keep your best employees around for as long as possible.
Promoting Health and Preventing Injury
According to Ergonomics Plus, “Poor work site design leads to fatigued, frustrated, and hurting workers. This rarely leads to the most productive worker.”
Productivity and profitability are obviously two aspects business owners and managers want to coax out of their workforce, how do those attributes correlate to employee retention?
Again referencing the Ergonomics Plus post, “Employees notice when the company is putting forth their best efforts to ensure their health and safety. If an employee does not experience fatigue and discomfort during their workday, it can reduce turnover.”
So the more emphasis you put on a workplace that actively promotes health and safety, the more likely it is that your employees won’t notice undue amounts of fatigue after work. That, in turn, makes employees enjoy their work environment, and makes it easier for them to want to stick around.
How do I improve my workplace ergonomics?
The modern workforce has seen drastic changes recently, but a piece from Time back in 2011 does a good job of underscoring just how rapidly that change has occurred.
“One of the top trends for 2012 . . . is that employee in the . . . millennial demographic are overturning the traditional workday.” How, where, and when we work is completely different now than just a decade ago, thanks to the large influx of millennials in the workforce. Their presence has disrupted the modern workday enough that publications like Entrepreneur have entire articles dedicated just to helping employers connect better with their millennial employees.
We covered that same topic - among others - last year in an article about unconventional ways to increase workplace productivity.
Improving the actual ergonomics of your workplace, though, requires more innovative thinking than allowing employees to work odd hours.
Focal Upright has four case studies specifically regarding ergonomics, all of which are worth your reading time. Focal produces workplace furniture that encourages engagement with the actual workplace - something that venture-backed startup Flux noted.
“Focal has been a great addition to our office space, as it provides a functional balance between sitting and standing. It has raised our awareness of ergonomics and encourages us to shift postures throughout the day. We hope that it is improving the long term health of our team,” said Flux CEO and Founder Nicholas Chim.
Changing ergonomics in the workplace does necessitate a change in company culture, but it also requires a change in furniture and education amongst employees of how their posture affects their workplace productivity and health.
Haworth Design Studio is a good example of a company making the kind of furniture that provides the interaction with the workplace noted by Flux, shows employees that management cares about employee health, and wraps all that up by improving their attitude and energy levels which in turn creates greater employee retention rates.
To sum it all up, ergonomics does wonders to increase employee retention. Healthy, happy employees want to be at work because it turns into a place where they feel comfortable. The investment you make in items as simple as desk chairs can go a long way to keeping the best and brightest minds at your office - not your competitor’s.