Healthy People Really Do Work Harder! Ergonomics, Health & High Productivity

Monday, August 22, 2016

Healthy workers are essential to business success and a strong Australian economy. Studies show that the productivity of workers with even minor illness decreases dramatically in comparison with their healthy colleagues. This is an issue that employers should take seriously because a lot of absenteeism is directly related to working conditions and can easily be prevented.

Work-related stress alone costs the Australian economy about $14 millions of dollars in lost revenue each year and the direct cost to employers has been assessed at $10.11 million every year - and yet good ergonomics can reduce these costs dramatically.

Maximising productivity
The whole focus of ergonomics is maximising productivity through optimised work conditions.  It's a globally recognised practical science that emerged from extensive military research and was later developed and refined by the designers of spacecraft. As applied to the workplace the goals are:

  • Low absenteeism
  • Low injury rate
  • High staff retention
  • Maximum productivity

Workplace stress

Workplace stress causes a multitude of physical symptoms that impact directly on job performance, for example, severe headaches, stomach ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome and insomnia. In addition, job stress cause high blood pressure, reduced concentration, poor memory function, anxiety and indecision. 

High blood pressure can go undiagnosed and untreated for years, which leads to cardiovascular and heart disease. If your workforce is currently experiencing high levels of work-related stress, a significant percentage may be working at reduced performance levels. 

An ergonomics consultant can assess all aspects of the working environment including how work is organised and supervised, shift-work schedules and management techniques to identify the causes of stress and recommend ways to remove them.

In-house health assessment

Furthermore, an ergonomics consultant can organise employee health assessment days which can identify previously undiagnosed stress/high blood pressure/high cholesterol/obesity and encourage individuals to visit their doctor for treatment. Employer-led health initiatives give your personnel a positive sense of being appreciated that significantly boosts morale leading to improved job performance and higher retention rates.

Physical strain

Ergonomics can also solve any health problems directly created by workstation furniture or office design.  Uncomfortable chairs, badly positioned computers and shelves with heavy boxes on the top all cause health problems to the people who have to use them for several hours a day. Any worker who suffers from eye-strain, headaches, neck, shoulder or back problems caused by their working environment won't be able to perform well. 

Poor ergonomics causes a high percentage of the work-related injuries which result in expensive compensation claims and what starts as a minor case of repetitive strain injury can lead to serious, permanent incapacity.

Workplace ergonomics overhaul

Workplace health and ergonomics consultants can do a complete, ground up ergonomics audit of your staff's physical environment. Comfortable, ergonomically designed seating that fits the user's size and shape is a core issue in relation to job performance and productivity.

Preventive medicine can save an employer thousands of dollars each year, when replacing a worker typically costs 40% to 75% of the job's annual salary. Having to replace workers because of poor working conditions doesn't make any financial sense – because you'll merely be treating the symptoms and not eradicating the cause.


The medical profession is now strongly focussed on preventive medicine, because the government knows this is cheaper than the high cost of treating completely preventable diseases. In accordance with this, the business sector has also begun to recognise that the cheapest and most effective way of achieving and maintaining maximum productivity is through cost-effective ergonomics initiatives.

With a typical return of at least $2.00 per $1.00 invested, employers gain substantial rewards from higher productivity – because healthy people really do work harder!

Share the article