Wellness of employees has always been an important topic in the field of Human Resource Management (HRM). Ergonomics is one of the significant factors in HRM, it is a system of designing a workplace environment based on a combination of psychological and physiological principles. The main purpose is to provide a physical environment which is safer for employees and productive for the company.
In past research, it has been proven that company wellness programs decrease the health care cost and make employees happy and satisfied. These employees consequently show more retention and increase the productivity of the company.
To sit or stand during the work hours is a new debate for the ergonomics. It is said that sitting is “new smoking”, so standing desks are being promoted at workplace now these days. Are these standing desks effective practically? To answer this question, many researchers conducted studies at the workplace.
Elizabeth Garland and researchers from the organizations related to ergonomics conducted a study in real office environment for over a year. Total 67 employees participated in that research. Half of them were given common and traditional desk while other half participants were assigned to the standing desk where they can switch between sit and stand modes. The authors mentioned in their study that this was the first time ever to examine the ergonomics in real life situation for such a long time period. The research concluded interesting findings.
The traditional desk sitter did not show any change or improvement in their physical activities or productivity, though they were given special training and classes about physical health. On the other hand employees with standing desk reported a significant impact of this change on their work life.
According to the employees, they felt an improvement in their standing posture and decrease in joint and muscle pain. Joanna Frank, one of the authors of the study, further explained that participants also reported improvement in their productivity at workplace.
This research study contributed a lot to the field of ergonomics, however, there are few limitations. As the participants self-reported their performance, so it can be possible that they exaggerated their feelings and overestimated their performance.
In contrast to the above-mentioned research findings, another recent research study showed a different perspective. According to Garland, the author of the research study, mentioned that these standing desks can affect the concentration of employees.
Another important factor highlighted in that research was that the effectiveness of standing desks is dependent on the employees’ weight. People who are normal or underweight will usually use the facility and switch their modes between sit and stand while people with overweight will keep on sitting.
In the end, researchers recommended that choice should be given to employees whether they want to opt for a standing desk or carry on their work life with traditional desk. This choice will generate the sense of empowerment in them. Although ergonomics is the key to employees’ health, there are so many other factors which really matter for employees’ wellness and one of them is treating them good.