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Ergonomics to eliminate unhealthy workplace habits

03 August 2016

New research reveals that UK workers are creatures of habit when it comes to workplace behaviours.

The majority of UK office workers have admitted practicing a string of unhealthy workplace habits, despite knowing they contribute to health problems such as; back ache, neck pain and eye strain.

New research, commissioned by a leading office ergonomics expert, Fellowes, has found that 94% of employees sit for long periods of time without moving around, 86% forget to give their eyes a break from their computer screen and 78% slouch at their desk. This is despite 91% of respondents agreeing that being comfortable when they are at work improves their overall quality of life.

The results highlight a worrying trend among office employees throughout the UK. Despite knowing that bad habits impact health and wellbeing, employees are doing nothing to improve workplace behaviours, with 25% having taken time off work due to health problems associated with working at a computer and 45% having taken medication.

Fellowes warns that employers must do more to educate employees and dispel any embarrassment or stigmas around workplace wellbeing, as shockingly 58% of workers are more likely to suffer in silence than raise concerns about their health.

Making just a few simple changes could have a significant impact on employee wellbeing, with foot rests, wrist supports and height adjustable desks cited as some of the ergonomic products that would help reduce absences caused by work-related ailments.

Worryingly, 20% of employees have resorted to creating improvised workstation accessories to improve their comfort due to a lack of available purpose-built products in their office. Furthermore, just 22% have had a workplace risk assessment in the past six months.

Darryl Brunt, UK & Ireland sales and marketing director at Fellowes, said: “While many people make efforts to eat well and exercise to stay fit and healthy when they are away from the office, it seems they are ignoring the potentially very serious affects their workplace habits can have on their wellbeing.

“Companies must do more to educate and improve conditions for their staff, as not only do they have a responsibility for their wellbeing, but ultimately it benefits the business; a good working environment is proven to increase employee productivity and performance, making a happier organisation all round.”

Bad Habit Betty and Healthy Hugo

The research highlighted that most respondents associated themselves with being a ‘Bad Habit Betty’, with 52% saying they try to take good care of themselves but have some bad habits.

One third (29%) considered themselves to be ‘Healthy Hugos’ who take good care of themselves both physically and mentally, and are therefore least likely to suffer from ailments caused by their working environment.

Struggling Stella and Laidback Lucas

Just 3% of office workers identified with ‘Laidback Lucas’, whom does not prioritise taking good care of themselves, and 16% felt they were ‘Struggling Stellas’ who find it hard to take care of their physical and mental wellbeing, even though they know it to be important.

Those who identified with ‘Struggling Stella’ and ‘Laidback Lucas’ are most likely to suffer in silence rather than raising concerns they have about workplace health and wellbeing, while all (apart from the Laidback Lucas’) felt it would be beneficial to have workplace wellbeing ambassadors at their company.