Organizational Ergonomics – Part 3

Redesigning the physical environment using the science of ergonomics will help in reducing repetitive strain injuries (RSI’s) for workers.  But there are other things to consider when implementing new equipment and design that could be detrimental to a happy, productive work environment.

Consider company restructuring:  Tom has been working as graphic designer for ABC Design for many years.  He enjoys his job and feels he gets a lot of creative support from his design team of six people.  He also relies on his supervisor frequently for feedback and for future direction on his projects.  Recently however, ABC Design restructured their company management and teams to reduce costs and promote efficiency.  Tom now only has a team of three people and his supervisor oversees five other teams.  His supervisor no longer has the time he needs for feedback and direction and as a result, his creativity has suffered and he cannot complete his projects in a timely manner.  His team members are experiencing the same problems.  What went wrong?

Solution:  Company restructuring is important to a company’s bottom line, but it should also aim to promote a good working environment or productivity, efficiency, and innovation will suffer.  ABC brought in an ergonomics consultant who specialized in organizational ergonomics.  She identified a decrease in productivity due to stagnated project completion, weakened innovation, and a decrease in future contracts.  It was recommended that design teams consist of at least four people and that supervisors oversee no more than four teams.  Due to this organizational ergonomics restructuring, productivity increased, creativity rose, and business increased.  The right mix of cost-saving and managerial and team support was found.

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Organizational Ergonomics – Part 2

Redesigning the physical environment using the science of ergonomics will help in reducing repetitive strain injuries (RSI’s) for workers.  But there are other things to consider when implementing new equipment and design that could be detrimental to a happy, productive work environment.

Consider job satisfaction:  Sally has been working as a receptionist for a large bank for many years.  Her job consists of answering calls and directing the calls to the appropriate people.  Lately Sally’s boredom with the job has increased and as a result, she has been making more errors in transferring her calls and her right shoulder has started to hurt.  What went wrong?

Solution:  Tackling boredom is a very valuable tool for decreasing work-related injury increasing productivity.  A study done by the Journal of Applied Psychology found that job boredom was a significant predictor of work-related injury.  In Sally’s case, the low demands of her work coupled with a lack of control and opportunity were affecting her work.  To solve this problem, an ergonomic consultant redesigned her station to promote comfort, but also recommended job enlargement.  Job enlargement is when a job demands and responsibilities increase within the same scope of job.  Sally’s job was enlarged to include some data entry and administrative work.  She was also provided with the option to pursue training for other jobs in the company.  And she and the other receptionists created a team to improve customer service.  As a result of all these interventions, Sally’s transfer errors declined and her right shoulder pain started to recede.  She became happier and more pleasant with customers, and team atmosphere created by the receptionists improved work morale.  Another way organizational ergonomics can create a happy workplace.