Employee well-being in the age of hybrid work: ergonomics, mental health and personal care
From factories and warehouses to offices and homes across the country, the nature of work has changed dramatically over the past two years. Research by DORN Companies indicates that employers are noticing impacts on the health, safety and well-being of their workforce that coincide with an unprecedented number of workers doing their work off-site, including in their workplaces. kitchens and their living rooms. The result is a growing need for adaptable solutions for ergonomics, injury prevention and wellness that can accommodate hybrid workforces and provide holistic support to employees.
Statistics: the state of work in 2021
In a recent survey of professionals in EHS, HR and Workforce Wellness, 57% of those surveyed said they had noticed a significant increase in pain levels or a significant decrease in well-being. be general of their workers during the last 12 months. Some 80% said they employ a hybrid workforce of onsite, remote, and home-based employees, and 17% said their entire workforce is remote.
For employees, these changes have led to new well-being issues and ergonomic challenges that can threaten their mental health, quality of life and commitment to work. In the same survey, about 23% of employees said they had pain in their neck, shoulders, wrists or back. Even more (55%) reported receiving frequent complaints of fatigue and high stress levels from workers; around 70% of those polled also said their employees reported mental health and work-life balance issues.
At the same time, there are signs of a future where hybrid work becomes an integral part of the lives of employees and their organizations. UpWork research suggests that 73% of departments will include remote workers by 2028, and Forbes reports that 66% of employees expect to work in a post-pandemic hybrid model.
Meanwhile, the conversation about workplace safety has broadened and evolved to focus more on concepts related to well-being that were previously rarely seen as an important facet of safety. Partly in response to the pandemic and the changing nature of work, wellness managers are for the first time starting to incorporate safety data into their strategies. Likewise, safety officials who typically focus on ergonomics and engineering controls embrace welfare realm principles that aim to provide a more holistic basis of support for workers.
Three-pronged approach: solutions for ergonomics, mental health and well-being
It is clear that the future of workplace safety and well-being lies in a hybrid model that includes traditional safety and ergonomics as well as support for mental health and general well-being.
All aspects of workplace safety and well-being are interconnected, and as stress and fatigue levels increase and work environments change, injury rates often increase as a result. At the end of 2020, Marsh predicted a 16% increase in musculoskeletal disorders and injuries over the next 12-18 months, after seeing an increase of around 13% in the past 12 months. In response, employers are increasingly adopting additional ergonomic solutions designed around flexible services complemented by technological support.
Case studies have shown that successful ergonomics programs typically include a personalized suite made up of some or all of the following:
- On-site therapies for immediate management of pain, discomfort and symptoms of injury
- Coaching, conditioning and training in body mechanics around best ergonomic practices relating to the specific tasks and work environment of each employee
- Ergonomic software to strengthen and adjust posture and biomechanics in real time
- Ergonomic assessments to assess workstations and departments for injury and pain risk factors, on-site or virtually
- Technology including portable fatigue monitors, stress sensors and exoskeletons to support worker strength
Specifically, DORN recorded a case study with a major customer in aviation and freight in which the employer reported initial MSD rates of over 2.5% and an average cost per claim over $ 40,000. Following ergonomic and well-being interventions, the client reported:
- 83% reduction in pain level
- 91% reduction in stress level
- 85% improvement in morale
- 57% reduction in absenteeism
- $ 200,000 in immediate savings in the first few months
Mental health solutions
With employees more stressed than ever, mental health issues are quickly becoming an area of focus for effective wellness programs. As a result, providing personal care support and open communication for employees has become essential.
Employers can support the mental health of their employees with:
- Emphasis on self-care
- Telemedicine, free counseling and employee assistance programs
- Help lines and real-time communication tools available to workers 24/7
- Free online and mobile apps for mindfulness and meditation
- Training of managers to better identify mental and behavioral health problems and risk factors
Personal Care Plus from DORN The Toolkit is designed to provide a holistic set of wellness solutions with mobility and conditioning applications, desktop ergonomics software, virtual ergonomic interventions and virtual self-massage training.
Supporting employee well-being means maintaining an active focus on the well-being and resilience of the workforce. An effective approach to employee well-being should include:
- Leadership focused on employee well-being
- Preventive benefits
- On-demand virtual programming and live self-care
- Fatigue management programs
- Personalized health, meal and fitness plans
- Access to wellness coaching
- Stress management training
- Financial well-being education
With a three-part strategy that includes specific solutions around ergonomics, mental health, and general well-being, employers can develop holistic programs that provide key self-care support while reducing the risk of injury and by improving the quality of life of employees.
By Kevin Lombardo
Courtesy of DORN
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