How Ergonomics Can Help Your Employees Take Care of Their Bodies

Sedentary work can take a toll on your company’s physical health. Help your team take better care of their bodies by committing to office ergonomics.

5 min read

Whether you and your team are working from home or back in the office, sitting at a desk all day is not only mentally exhausting, but it can also take a toll on your company’s physical health. While you may not think of office jobs as physically taxing, sitting in one position for hours at a time can negatively impact your health. There is even evidence that workplace aches and pains have increased over the past few years as the pandemic caused many office workers to work from home at inadequate workstations.

As occasional discomfort becomes more frequent, employee musculoskeletal disorders can lead to high costs for employers. According to the CDC, these fiscal impacts include absenteeism, lost productivity, and increased health care, disability, and worker’s compensation costs.

These work-related musculoskeletal disorders can include more obvious injuries sustained from physical labor, as well as office-related ailments like carpal tunnel syndrome from typing, back pain from an uncomfortable office chair, or neck tension from staring at a computer monitor all day.

Needless to say, employers are responsible for creating safe environments for their workers. And that’s where at-home and in-office ergonomics come into play. Read on for some tips on how you can help your team take better care of their bodies with ergonomics.

Defining office ergonomics

Starting Your Company’s Ergonomic Journey

The University of North Carolina defines ergonomics as “the study of people in their working environment.” Experts note that “the goal is to eliminate discomfort and risk of injury due to work” and make sure employee wellness remains a top priority when building and analyzing a workstation.

To prioritize the ergonomic health of your team, first consider doing some research and committing to worker outreach.

  • Offer support with open lines of communication: Make it clear to your employees that you value the ergonomic process by communicating information about it clearly.
  • Involve employees: Gather information from workers about their jobs and any concerns or suggestions they have for creating a safer work environment.
  • Provide training: Teach employees good ergonomic habits and how to recognize and report the early signs of work-related injuries.

Ergonomic Tools to Improve Employee Experience

As you build your ergonomic plan, also consider that back pain is likely one of the ailments plaguing your employees the most. According to a 2020 study, back pain affects nearly half of office workers. Other common sources of discomfort in office workers also include neck, shoulder, and wrist pain.

Here are some key features to put in place when creating an ergonomic office or advising your work-from-home employees:

  • A comfortable chair. It’s important that employees have seating that supports their spine, allows their feet to rest comfortably on the floor or a footrest, and allows their shoulders to be relaxed, supported, and comfortable.
  • A mouse and keyboard placed on the same surface. Keeping wrists straight while typing may decrease fatigue in desk workers. Specially designed ergonomic mice or keyboards can also be helpful.
  • A phone with a headset or speaker option. These can avoid neck cramping during lengthy conference calls.
  • An adjustable standing desk. A dynamic, mobile desk can allow workers to alternate between sitting and standing so they can vary their position throughout the day and reduce strain on the body.
  • A well-spaced computer monitor. It should be about an arm’s length away, and the top of the screen should be at eye level. Employees should also consider a separate monitor and/or keyboard if they have a laptop.
Building your eronomic office

Exercises to Encourage Worker Wellness

Once you have optimal workstations, there are also steps that each worker can take to ensure optimal physical health, whether they’re in the office or working at home. One study showed that office workers are more likely to exercise if they are informed of the downsides to being sedentary and encouraged to exercise by their employer.

Here are some suggestions for improving workers’ physical health:

  • Encourage workers to get up at least once an hour. This can involve going to the bathroom, getting a drink of water, or doing a few stretches. Remaining in one position for too long is the cause of most desk job–related pain, so workers should try to avoid being still all day.
  • Commit to stress reduction. Stress can often lead to working longer hours, which increases the chances of workplace injury and even, at its worst, staff resignation. Yes, stress is unavoidable in the workplace, but there are preventable factors your managers should be mindful of, like poor work organization, poor work design, poor management, unsatisfactory working conditions, or lack of support from colleagues and supervisors. After making appropriate changes, offer your team resources for stress-reducing techniques like meditation or yoga.
  • Follow the “20-20-20 Rule.” This means looking away from a computer at something more than 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. This prevents eyestrain and may even reduce stress.
An Ergonomic checklist to feel better at work

For business leaders, digital tools can be a great resource for the seamless implementation of these new, active policies. Research has shown that guided online exercises can help decrease pain and increase well-being, and you may see better results when you give your team the freedom of digital personalization. For example, a worker with back issues will surely benefit from different exercises than those dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome.

Kaia Believes: Self-Service Technologies Are the Future of Healthcare

Today’s employees are empowered and proactive, and they’ve embraced the power of digital tools to track and take charge of their health. Most people no longer want to wait months for care, navigate traffic, and fill out stacks of paperwork for a short appointment. They want health solutions when they need them, where they need them.

According to the 2021 Mercer Marsh Benefits Health on Demand survey, 80 percent of Americans planned to use digital solutions for their healthcare last year, either to help them manage a condition or to support their health goals. Companies that build digital infrastructure for employees to access state-of-the-art health technology will lead the way into the future and boost their efforts to recruit and retain the best employees.


If employees are reporting physical issues en masse, it can be a sign that employers are missing something crucial in maintaining their workers’ well-being. By investing in ergonomics and crafting a workplace that puts workers’ health first, you can prevent wide-scale burnout and increase employee satisfaction and retention.

Author: Dr. Jasmine Marcus

Dr. Jasmine Marcus, PT, DPT, CSCS is a doctor of physical therapy, as well as a certified strength and conditioning specialist and writer. In addition to practicing physical therapy in an orthopedic setting, she has written for several national and physical therapy publications. Learn more at

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