Ergonomics is about ensuring a good fit between people, the things they do, and the objects they use and the environments in which they work, travel and play.
The Science of Ergonomics is a technique complementary to human factors and as such, employers should not only take account of the workplace and the objects within it, but must also consider the emotional well-being of their employees.
Human factors relate to the job, the individual and the organisation and the way they impact on people’s health and safety related behaviour. As a concept, it embraces human errors, attitudes, rewards and motivators.
Many employers are now concentrating on the emotional and intuitive side of their employees’ experiences within the workplace and the results from a health and safety aspect are positive.
Employers are seeking to design tasks, places and services that elicit an emotional response from their users, to create enjoyable and appropriate workplace experiences that cater to intangible needs as well as addressing functional requirements. This would include how employees might feel when performing a task or using work equipment, like enjoyment, happiness, humour, fear etc.
Emotional ergonomics studies the influence of the emotional intelligence of the employee and its relationship in the workplace.
Emotional ergonomics tries to prepare the work environment to be aware of the impact of emotion on performance, and make it sensitive to what it can do to enhance the process, as well as to help employees develop their own emotional intelligence in an effective manner.
There are many factors that cause stress at work and emotional ergonomics is concerned with helping employees deal with these factors. This allows employers to assess how the work environment affects emotions and how these emotions affect work performance.
The value of standard ergonomics can be measured in many ways such as reducing absence and sickness levels by providing well designed and suitable work equipment. The value of emotional ergonomics could also be measured from the use of employee satisfaction surveys to identify their needs are being met. The use of such a survey together with employee interviews could help to identify any improvements that could be made to benefit the overall workplace emotional experience.
These may include improving relationships with colleagues, better hours/shifts, dealing with intimidation and bullying, elimination of repetitive jobs and generally giving the workers what they desire.
Many organisations now use staff attitude/behaviour surveys by acting on the outcomes, have already benefited from a substantial reduction in slips, trips and falls from improving working environments based on emotional responses.
The benefit of promoting emotional ergonomics is that emotionally healthy employees will lead to increased productivity and profits, improved retention of staff, more loyalty and a considerable reduction in sickness and absence levels.
Emotional ergonomics must not be viewed as a quick fix, but once implemented it can have a lasting influence on the organisation and will increase moral, production and assist in creating a positive health and safety culture.