A well-designed chair is a critical component of a safe and productive workstation. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) describes a good chair as providing “necessary support to the back, legs, buttocks, and arms, while reducing exposures to awkward postures, contact stress, and forceful exertions.” They reinforce that the chair should be appropriately adjustable and have adequate support to ensure proper fit for the user. We’ve posted several articles about the risks of sitting and the importance of having a good ergonomic chair, but now we’ll discuss how to convince your boss that you need one.
Beginning the Discussion
When approaching your boss about buying a new piece of equipment, remember that she is tasked with helping the company make a profit. This means that she is obligated to manage expenses and to maximize the productivity of the staff. You should consider this as you plan your presentation.
Your pitch should focus on the benefits that ergonomic chairs bring to the company, as well as, the staff. Managers have to consider the return on investment (ROI) of each purchase they approve so they can justify the expense to their bosses. The best approach is to show that the ergonomic chair benefits for the staff will also benefit the company.
Benefits of an Ergonomic Chair
My article, How Proper Ergonomics In The Workplace Reduces Employers’ Cost, described the impact of ergonomic equipment on the direct and indirect costs for employers. The most common cause of these costs is musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) such as neck pain, back strains, tendinitis, epicondylitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Direct costs related to MSDs are workers compensation payments, medical expenses, and legal fees. The indirect costs include implementation of corrective measures, accident investigation, training replacement employees, lost productivity, and absenteeism.
The use of an ergonomic chair can address three primary factors that lead to these direct and indirect costs. They include reducing work injuries, improving productivity, and enhancing employee satisfaction.
Reducing Work Injuries: Ergonomic chairs reduce work injuries by decreasing the postural stress on your neck, back, shoulders, elbows, and wrists. Decreasing the postural stress on your body helps to prevent musculoskeletal disorders that are caused by poor positioning and overuse during repetitive activities.
Improving Productivity: The adjustable features of an ergonomic chair allow it to accommodate different body types, activities, and workstyles. A properly adjusted ergonomic chair allows you to work for longer periods by improving your comfort and ensuring that you are in the optimal position to perform your work. You will be less likely to be distracted by soreness and able to focus on job tasks.
Enhancing Job Satisfaction: Ergonomic chairs are more comfortable than standard chairs because they can adapt to fit each user. Using a supportive chair that allows you to perform your job duties without causing pain, fatigue, or muscle strain will keep you in a more positive state of mind. The knowledge that your employer cares about your well-being will further enhance your job satisfaction.
Justifying the Cost
Your boss might view an ergonomic chair as an unnecessary expense that will only take away from the company’s profit. You will need to reframe her view of the cost of the chair to be an investment in her team. Explain how your current chair causes muscle pain and tightness that requires you to take frequent breaks to stand and walk around. Discuss how the need for frequent breaks reduces your productivity throughout the day.
Once you’ve painted the picture of the negative effects that your current chair has on your effectiveness in performing your job, you should change directions to focus on the positive effects that a new ergonomic chair will offer. Describe how the new chair will allow you to sit for longer period of time to do focused, productive work. Demonstrate that the new chair will promote proper posture and allow you to perform tasks more efficiently.
Your presentation may be more effective if you can quantify the productive time that you will gain from being able to work at your desk for longer periods. You can use data from the Department of Labor to demonstrate the cost of lower productivity from work injuries and disengagement of employees. Try to keep the discussion as simple as possible, but it might be helpful to have visual aides such as graphs to illustrate the point. The key is to demonstrate that your increase in productivity and reduced risk for missing time from work will more than cover the cost of the ergonomic chair.
Ergonomic chairs can be expensive, but the return on investment can be significant if you factor in the potential for fewer work injuries, increased employee productivity, and improved employee engagement. A healthy, engaged team will also have lower absentee rates and improved job satisfaction. You can convince your boss of your need for an ergonomic chair by explaining that the boost your productivity and reduced risk for missed time will more than offset the cost of the chair.