Ergonomics and Workplace Stress: Their Link & How To Manage

Just as much as accountants, astronauts need good workplace ergonomics. Truly a topic that touches every industry, ergonomics can throttle fatigue and improve productivity. Ergonomics makes work more efficient by lessening discomfort and pain. It applies to shop clerks and computer programmers as much as firefighters and singers, all of whom have the potential to experience workplace stress. 

And, sure. Stress is not all bad. Piled with connotations that make it a scapegoat for myriad ills, stress still has a positive meaning in many contexts. In exercise, stress can create the opportunity to safely and incrementally increase cardiac health, strength, and endurance. In short bursts, stress can create motivation and alert you to situations that may demand your attention. 

In other contexts, stress can wreak havoc. Prolonged and chronic stress can damage not just your emotional life but your physical organs. Not only an interpersonal or mental issue, but the experience of simply existing in a poorly designed space can create a stress buildup that blunts your focus, effectiveness, and desire to work at all. Let’s investigate how this happens and ways to manage workplace stress with ergonomics.

What is the relationship between ergonomics and workplace stress?

More than pizza Fridays, your employees might crave a comfortable space to work. To do their best, they need it. This need cuts across all job descriptions and professions, however respected or seemingly simplistic. 

Craft beer brand owners often start small enough to deliver kegs themselves, running into back issues. Everyone from the vocalist to the astronaut has thought of ways to make their own workplace motions put less stress on their bodies. Discomfort from repetitive motions or actions of the body by any worker can take time to manifest, but the resulting stress can create strain. From there, the trip to a workplace injury can be all too quick for its victims. 

Many of you have already experienced or heard others mention the effects of poor workplace ergonomics. Common complaints include eyestrain from gazing at a computer screen for too long and wrist pain from typing in a poor posture. Strain caused by repetitive use of a computer mouse can cause aches and pains in the fingers and wrist, too. Sciatica, moreover, can be caused by sitting on the couch – that favorite workstation for those working from home. 

Temperature, vibration, and even lighting can add to the load. Photographers agree. Lighting is everything. But more than helping to capture a great shot, lighting ergonomics is the foundation for a productive day at work. Poor lighting, in contrast, can cause discomfort, stress, and vision strain. Those issues, in turn, can create headaches and so on. Luckily, simple adjustments are easy to make, and professionals can help determine what they are, no matter what the setting or profession.

Does improving ergonomics reduce workplace stress?

Improving ergonomics can reduce stress on the body often by definition. It’s only up to those in charge to proactively manage the environment. So why does workplace stress caused by poor ergonomic design happen at all? Let’s consider it from all angles. 

Businesses rarely start with a roadmap for ergonomics. Instead, they are rightfully engaged in their area of practice, commerce, and the like. Finding pain points is often more about trial and error. 

Though workers can often identify uncomfortable physical strain as they do their jobs, once a precedent is set, employees may find themselves in an uphill battle to gain buy-in from supervisors on any attempts to change the ergonomic design. But this resistance to change may have its own roots in a lack of resources. 

High-quality managers and owners often tune into their employee experience. They know that small complaints can result in big gaps in productivity if those complaints are tied to injury-causing ergonomic errors. Those same managers, however, may find themselves at a loss for appropriate remedies and good ergonomic practices. 

That’s where expert teams can step in to take the guesswork out of a healthy ergonomic setup. Customized response teams like those found at Biofunctional Health can tailor suggestions and offer helpful, tiered strategies for making the biggest impact in the shortest amount of time or where it is needed most. 

How To Improve Ergonomics While Reducing Stress

You’re going to need more than Baoding balls. The reduction in anxiety from twirling these ancient Chinese tools certainly helps, but more than that, the holistic picture of your workplace can help you reduce stress and improve ergonomics. 

The picture is unique for each position, but you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Biofunctional Health can save you time with expert suggestions and recommendations. That said, your employees may still enjoy the use of those Baoding balls or maybe even a little squishy toy from time to time.