If stress seems like a personal matter, that’s because it is. So why is an emotional experience unique to an individual having such an impact on the workplace? According to experts, it’s the result of a myriad of issues such as worker burnout, job insecurity, spillover from issues in workers’ personal lives, or even too few workers doing too many jobs. But whatever the cause, the end result is that workers who report chronic stress could be, say some researchers, leaving themselves vulnerable to injury or illness and putting the workplace in a productivity slump.
Stress in itself is a physical and/or emotional response to “stressors” like a tight deadline or a hard-to-meet quota, learning a new task or procedure, or not having a voice in the work or workplace. Occasionally, stress can be perceived as good for a person, acting as a motivator pushing them to complete a task or assignment. While other times it has the opposite effect, possibly leading to absenteeism, reduced productivity, or even an increased risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).
Injury Risk Factors
- Excessive workloads
- Employees who feel overwhelmed by the workload and cannot switch off after work
- Conflict between employees and managers
- Verbal abuse from confrontations with clients or the general public
- Threat of physical harm or injury
- Frequent lifting especially while maintaining an awkward posture
- Vibration from a power tool that makes the hands vibrate
- Repetitive arm movements
- Performing work with a deviated or bent wrist
- Working with the head/neck bent or twisted excessively
- Sitting and using a computer more than half the time
- Seated for 30 minutes or more without a break while carrying out work
Tired and Grumpy at Work?
If you’re like most people, occasional nagging aches and pains can make you grumpy and less productive at work; after all, you’re not at your most productive when you’re physically uncomfortable. Take a moment to consider the aches and pains you may regularly experience. How many of them are related to how your desk is set up? If you don’t have an ergonomic workstation, your posture may suffer, and your risk of injury may increase—and that’s sure to raise your stress level!
Imagine how your productivity would be affected if you were always fatigued, in pain, or otherwise uncomfortable during the workday. Now multiply that to your whole team. When no one is at their best, everyone’s stress increases, while overall productivity plummets. Keeping workplace ergonomics in mind—like controlling screen glare, reducing motion, improving posture, and positioning equipment at ideal heights and reaches—can help increase efficiency and employee engagement.
Ergonomics for the Office
You can buy ergonomic products that help promote better posture, like an adjustable height computer workstation. An adjustable desk enables you to work while standing or sitting because you can raise or lower the height to the correct ergonomic position: where your monitor is at eye level. A properly positioned monitor will help prevent eye strain as well as pain in the neck and shoulders.
You’ll improve workplace ergonomics even further by pairing ergonomic standing desks with the best ergonomic keyboard tray you can find. An under-desk keyboard tray will help you position your keyboard at elbow height—the ideal typing posture—which can reduce discomfort and injuries in the hands, wrists, and arms.
Reducing Workplace Stress
Here’s a tip that can help reduce workplace stress: increase your overall physical activity. One way to add activity to your workday is to make sure you and your team take regular breaks to walk around or stretch for a few moments every hour or two. When you vary your body’s position, you help protect against musculoskeletal injuries as well as increasing blood flow, which can give you a little energy boost.
Lower workplace stress while boosting creativity and productivity by improving workplace ergonomics. Take some time to evaluate your workstations, and talk to your coworkers to get input into how you work together to reduce workplace stress. Making it a team effort gets everyone involved, which can raise morale.
Improving workplace ergonomics can also lower stress by reducing sick days, injuries, and long-term health problems that can negatively affect a person’s career. After all, if your team isn’t distracted by physical discomfort, they can better focus on doing their jobs. And that benefits everyone’s bottom line.