Creating healthy working environments is a hot topic of discussion in today’s workplaces. Not only does a healthy working environment increase employee satisfaction and morale, it can also help to improve employee efficiency rates, absenteeism rates, and reduce potential workplace injuries. It is becoming increasingly evident that taking proactive measures to prevent workplace discomfort and injuries is key. Here are four preventative tips for employers and employees to consider.
1. Move and Take Breaks
Often, employees can become so immersed in work that it becomes very easy to skip breaks. At the time, it may seem more worthwhile to get the task done than to go for a walk around the block or take a coffee or lunch break.
Our bodies need breaks. We need to stretch our muscles and move to stay healthy, focused and efficient. Recent research has shown that the most efficient employees are those that incorporate consistent positional changes and movement breaks throughout their working day. This may include alternating between sitting and standing as well as also incorporating stretching breaks every half-hour/hour.
It is important to understand that movement and changing positions doesn’t take away from valuable working time, but rather can create a more healthy and efficient employee.
2. Get to Know Your Equipment
Most employees are provided with office equipment that they use for extended periods of time, several days per week. This frequency makes it essential for employers and employees take the time to learn about the available adjustment features on this equipment and how to adjust the equipment appropriately.
Just as most individuals will adjust a driver’s seat in a car before starting to drive, office equipment should be adjusted before it is used. Ensuring that the office equipment is adjusted to each user’s specific needs can help to prevent workplace discomfort and injuries.
3. Be Proactive So Issues Can Be Identified Early
It is essential that employers create an environment where employees feel comfortable coming forward if they are having challenges. Employees should be proactive and inform their managers as early as possible if they begin to experience discomfort at work.
Many ergonomic issues can be resolved with education and equipment adjustments. If an employee approaches their employer stating that they are experiencing discomfort while working, it is important for employers to act quickly and involve a professional who can provide recommendations.
Furthermore, employers may want to also consider offering an education session to all employees, where a professional can provide ergonomic education, information on appropriate equipment adjustments, and information on healthy tips for workplace success.
If issues can be identified early, not only will the employee remain healthier and more productive at work, employers can reap the benefits of lower absenteeism rates and increased productivity and employee satisfaction.
4. Be Healthy at Home
Employers and employees also need to be proactive in maintaining a healthy lifestyle outside of the workplace.
In the past, we have conducted workplace accommodation assessments for employers and employees that are experiencing discomfort at work. When asked about what they do on their own time, it has become quite evident that non-work activities are significantly contributing to the discomfort that they are experiencing at work.
Therefore, it is important for employers and employees to consider the activities that they are doing outside of work, and ensure that they are leading a healthy lifestyle with proper nutrition, exercise and sufficient sleep.