Ergonomics and Employee Satisfaction

In most contact centers, it is far more cost-effective for employers to retain a good agent than to recruit a replacement. Therefore, keeping employee satisfaction and morale at a good level is a common business goal.

Many companies are providing ergonomically optimized workstations that reduce the high levels of discomfort and tension that often cause agents to move away from their workstation.

Agents will seldom come right out and say to the management team, “My work space stinks!” What you will hear are subtle statements (okay, sometimes not so subtle) like “I don’t have any storage space.” Or “I don’t have anywhere to put my important papers.” Or “I don’t have enough desk space to complete all my assignments.”

When Response Design conducts contact center audits, we always ask agents, “Is your workspace big enough for the big job you do?” We ask the question this way because we have found it opens them up to all the workspace issues.

The agents seldom answer with size concerns. Instead they usually start talking about layout, lack of storage, privacy issues, noise, personalization and/or security issues.

By paying attention to these remarks, a company can achieve multiple objectives by enhancing agents¹ sense of value to the corporation, reducing stress and emotional fatigue, reducing sick leave and absenteeism and making employees more positive about the time they spend at the contact center.

These intangibles contribute to the fiscal performance of the company.

Are your agents at ergonomic risk? They may be if they are experiencing any of these common symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Slowness in focusing (distant to near and back)
  • Double vision
  • Eyestrain (sore eyes or eye fatigue)
  • Eye irritation (burning, dryness, and redness)
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Back pain

By adjusting the workplace to the user and teaching individuals how to correctly use the computer, contact centers can quantify measurable increases in performance. These actions also reduce risk factors associated with office-related cumulative trauma disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis. Good workstation posture and keying skills help reduce eye, neck, and general body fatigue.

Kathryn E. Jackson, Ph.D is president of Ocean City, NJ-based contact center consultancy Response Design Corp.

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