In my work as an ergonomist, I conduct routine preventive and post-injury ergonomic evaluations. For years, I’ve asked each employee, “Do you know what ergonomics is?” and “When was the last time you attended ergonomics training?” The answers are almost always “not sure” and “never!”
Understanding how to set up and adjust one’s workstation is not intuitive. Employees must be taught how to do so. I often say, “We all know how to do our jobs, but no one has ever taught us how to work with good ergonomics!”. I’ve seen this over and over and it’s why I’ve been in business for 26 years! So, what is the solution?
One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to engage employees in ergonomics training to teach them self-correction, self-care and ensure the outcomes positively impact the bottom line is by offering online learning opportunities. Deciding whether to provide live training or use online e-learning is a choice many employers grapple with when it comes to training delivery preferences.
There are so many advantages of online learning compared to traditional classroom training. More and more employers have remote employees, multiple shifts or global sites in different time zones that make it impractical for live training.
Advantages of Learning Office Ergonomics Online
At least 77% of US companies offer online learning in their professional development programs (Roland Berger, 2014). While an upfront investment is necessary, the ROI can be 50-60% greater than traditional training, which, if done properly, can itself have a 4x return on investment (Boggs, 2015).
In Michael Allen’s Guide to e-learning: Building Interactive, Fun and Effective Learning Programs for Any Company, he discusses ten strategic and tactical employee and organizational benefits every employer should know about online learning:
- Web-based training is a powerful instrument for consistently developing a global labor force..
- Web-based training can be used to provide needed instruction without taking workers away from their daily responsibilities.
- Online learning overcomes the obstacles imposed by a transient workforce; and the flex-place, work anywhere worker.
- The use of contingent workers, such as temporary, consultants, part-timers, and others, have increased dramatically over the last decade. E-learning solutions and web-based learning management systems are invaluable tools to train and manage this unique labor force.
- Web-based training programs that offer certifications, college, and graduate school education, and important job enhancing skills are powerful incentives to retain goal-oriented and driven workers.
- Training of all kinds, including e-Learning programs, increase employee knowledge and skill level. They become better at their jobs, which makes them more productive and efficient, contributing to bottom line profits.
- The ability to access training anywhere, any time, and any place around the globe gives tremendous flexibility to learning across multiple electronic devices.
- There are reduced travel and related costs as a result of employees not having to travel for traditional onsite training and courses.
- e-Learning drastically reduces per-student costs as the setup investment is relatively low, and many courses can be viewed over and over or asynchronously.
- Web-based training is “just in time” learning. Employees can take it just before they need it, rather than enrolling weeks or months before they need the training or refresher class.
- Uniformly delivered course material in a consistent framework.
- Quickly and easily update course material to reduce lag time and printing costs.
- Efficiently customize training to meet the training objectives of a specific program
- Offer small group interactive coaching and or one: one mentorship
- Provided guided practice leading to independent performance based on course design
Is Training the Right Solution?
When I deliver live or online ergonomics training, many clients select general programs instead of customizing the class to reflect their operations better. Before you embark on an e-Learning journey, ask yourself if training is the right solution for the business problem you are trying to solve. Consider if it will:
- Impact the employees that really need it
- Be mandatory or voluntary
- Help employees implement the recommended changes
- Create greater accountability
- Provide the results you are looking for
- Be utilized in the manner anticipated
Who Should Participate in Office Ergonomics Training?
Everyone! At least anyone who uses a computer for any length of time; sets up a computer or purchases equipment to support computers. A successful ergonomics training program includes identifying the business problem you want the training to resolve and include those impacted. So, if employees are complaining about their chairs, invite the people who purchased the chairs. If employees have difficulty with monitor, keyboard and mouse placement, invite the IT team who set up the workstations.
Look beyond employees. Include your supervisors, IT, facilities, and purchasing all who have a vital role in your ergonomics program. If they don’t participate in training, then your program could be in jeopardy of failing. Training puts everyone on the same page. To not know and understand ergonomics is a failure of leadership. Don’t pass that on to your employees.
Whether live or online, ergonomics must be an organizational priority for it to be successful and for employees to achieve the expected learning outcomes. For best results, ergonomics is something everyone needs to know and understand especially in today’s modern office.
Assuring a Successful Outcome
Once training is delivered, leadership should engage with employees to ensure learning has occurred by encouraging discussion and practice of training methods and recommendations presented. And it’s a great time to follow up with a brief ergonomic review or ergonomic coaching session. After all, you can’t hold people accountable to the things they don’t know or haven’t been trained on!