Want to know what makes an office worker more, or less, productive? According to a recent survey by Microsoft Hardware, 90 percent of workers believe their productivity is directly linked to their workstation design, and most would choose ergonomic tools to increase their efficiency over company-wide morale-building programs.
The survey results, believed to reflect today’s United States business trend of employing fewer people to perform more work, also indicated that nearly one-half of all office workers spend eight or more hours each day enslaved to their computers. That, along with the respondents’ beliefs that the amount of time they spend working at the computer each week is tied to their level of fatigue, says a Microsoft Hardware representative, means employing ergonomics in the office environment is more important than ever to businesses wanting to keep their workers at peak productivity.
"Companies are needing to do more with less," Hugh McLoone, product ergonomist and usability researcher at Microsoft Hardware said in a Microsoft press statement regarding the survey. "In an environment where every increase in work-force productivity has an important impact on the bottom line, well-designed workstations including ergonomically designed keyboards and mice can go a long way toward helping employees succeed and businesses thrive."
While the trend of squeezing more work out of the same, or fewer, workers can seem appealing to a company, a May 2004 MSNBC report indicates that the long term impact of the trend may prove to be a hindrance instead, through increased employee turnover.
Turnover rates at companies are already on the rise, with rates expected to continue increasing for the next year or so as more and more employees seek jobs at what may be considered greener, or at least different, pastures. In theory, the turnover rates are climbing because employees were just plain overworked, yet most held their seats over the years because of a lack of other opportunities elsewhere. According to Mark Oldman with employment-research firm Vault, Inc., "Employees are wrung out right now—it's been a sausage grinder the last four years."
While some companies are working on programs to retain valuable workers through morale-boosting incentives including additional time off, the Microsoft survey indicates those measures might not be enough. While more than 50 percent of the survey’s respondents said that the best way their employer could show a commitment to employee success would be by providing employees with the proper tools to perform their jobs more efficiently, only 23 percent of respondents said they wanted motivational programs that focused on employee morale or social outings.
Sources: Microsoft (PR Newswire); MSNBC