“Work Haven For Personal Healing” by Valerie Brown Cheers

“There’s an important new trend in ergonomics. It’s a move away from a strict emphasis on reductions in musculoskeletal injuries and toward the diverse business benefits that come from ergonomic changes.”

If you just have to go to the workplace everyday, wouldn’t you be more energized or even motivated more if you knew your job cared about your well-being and not just paying you for sick days?

Wouldn’t you rather your employer invest that sick day money into say, ergonomic seating or chairs for your well-being, eye protectors for computer screen, there could be many choices of well-being perks, i.e. massage at the desk, massage on the table instead of lunch, employee gym, headsets with music for breaks or even while you work depending on type of work, etc.

Past research reveals inconsistent findings regarding the association between aversive workplace conditions and absenteeism, suggesting that other, contextual factors may play a role in this the workplace.

Peer Absence-Related Norms and Lack of Leader Support

According to PsycNET American Psychological Association “Extending contemporary models of absence, we draw from the social identity theory of attitude–behavior relations to examine how peer absence-related norms and leader support combine to explain the effect of aversive workplace conditions on absenteeism.”

Also, their findings using a prospective design and a random sample of transit workers, PsycNet obtained results indicating that perceived job hazards and exposure to critical incidents are positively related to subsequent absenteeism, but only under conditions of more permissive peer absence norms.

Moreover, this positive impact of peer norms on absenteeism is amplified among employees perceiving their supervisor to be less supportive and is attenuated to the point of nonsignificance among those viewing their supervisor as more supportive.

Being an Organizational Leadership major has allowed me to not only study, but to do research as to why and how if the workplace introduced or had perks which would cut down on absentism and cut down on sick leave and absentism time would be all around beneficial for the organization/employer and/or the employee.

Concerned or even supportive supervisors, managers, etc. of an organization can lessen the quantity of times that workers who work in extreme, extraordinary, or perilous occupation conditions phone in sick, notwithstanding when their colleagues believe its satisfactory to stay home oftentimes, as per this blog.

What’s more, the support in efficiency from keeping the employees at work can have a quantifiable effect on how everything adds up, this blog will show.

If more employers would show empathy to their employees well-being, there would be so much less absentism, high cost of health insurance, even less tardiness. If there were perks which entice employers that the workplace is the place which cares about its people’s health. There are many areas which will and can make employees happy and look forward to even going to work.

According to “A Strategy and Business Article”
Published: July 6, 2012 (originally published by Booz & Company)”Employee absenteeism costs an estimated US$225.8 billion a year in lost productivity in the United States, and much of it is tied to threatening or noxious workplace environments. Although on-the-job hazards are typically associated with traditional manufacturing sectors, dangers are widespread in a variety of industries. Employees in food and hospitality services, healthcare, transportation, and retail services, for example, face myriad risks from slippery floors; excessive noise; toxic chemicals; and routine activities that can cause burns, broken bones, or bruises.”

“The authors studied 508 workers at a public transportation agency in a large U.S. city. About 43 percent of the participants worked in the bus division, 48 percent at transit stations, and 9 percent in the subways. The agency closely tracks attendance and has a strict policy on absences.

The authors used the participants’ personnel files to calculate their absenteeism rate over a period of two years; on average, the employees missed about 10 days annually. To determine the perceived risks of the job, they randomly chose 34 of the participants to answer questionnaires about such workplace dangers as electrocution, hazardous chemicals or contaminants, incessant loud noise, extreme temperatures or humidity, and verbal or physical abuse by customers or co-workers. Participants were also asked about incidents in which they saw others sustain injuries or deal with harsh conditions.

In addition, the participants answered questions about their attitudes toward missing work and how they regarded their co-workers, as well as the degree to which they thought 20 possible reasons for not showing up were “justifiable.” Along with the employee’s own sickness, these reasons included a parent’s illness, a major event at a child’s school, or a problem at home.

The results showed that an employee’s perception of on-the-job risks did not, in itself, play a role in how often a worker stayed home. Working alongside peers who thought it was OK to skip numerous days did, however, cause employees to call in sick more often — but only when the employees regarded their supervisor as unsupportive.”

This study clearly shows that is there not support from managers, supervisors, etc. or even the organizations HR professionals?

The authors went a bit further and “Gauged the supportiveness of supervisors. Using a five-point scale ranging from “never” to “several times a day,” the employees indicated how often during the past month their immediate boss had helped them in various ways, whether talking them through a work-related concern or providing positive feedback about their performance. In their analysis, the authors controlled for age, ethnicity, gender, tenure, and average hours worked per week, among other factors.”

According to an article, HR and Employment Law White Papers – Compliance Tools for HR Professionals: October 23, 2012 “How business benefits from ergonomics.”

“Walt Rostykus advises clients to integrate ergonomics into their safety management systems and to make ergonomics a component in the processes they use to manage quality or continuous improvement.

Rostykus is a vice president at Humantech, a leading ergonomics consulting company headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

“We’ve learned from benchmarking studies that companies attribute from 40 percent to 75 percent of their reportable workplace injuries to poor ergonomic conditions,” Rostykus notes. “It’s emerging as one of the more prevalent sources of loss as people get a handle on risks like burns and lacerations.”

According to Rostykus, business success—not compliance—is the chief reason for ergonomic improvements. Companies that invest in ergonomics these days do so to keep people well and working, prevent losses, and because it’s the right thing to do.

For many, “it’s also a component in the formula for managing productivity and the quality of businesses and services,” says Rostykus. “You can’t manage a business well if the tasks don’t fit the capability of the people.” Proper alignment of workers with tools and systems removes barriers to performance, a component in overall business success.

Engineers and designers can do a lot to make workplaces more comfortable, but only if they are given direction by building and business owners. Despite some positive change, ergonomics is still often considered an “add-on” after construction is complete.

In conclusion I believe value lies beyond the potential to reduce musculoskeletal injuries, with potential benefit for many business operations.

Does that reflect your experience? Would you be likely to use these ideas to “sell” ergonomics to your top leadership?




Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol 97(4), Jul 2012, 901-912. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0027437
(PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)


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