Article: How Poor Ergonomics Can Lead to Burnout

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Employee well-being is essential to the growth and stability of any business. When workers are stressed and operate in a poor ergonomic environment, they are more likely to suffer burnout. Proper workplace ergonomics is about designing workspaces that meet the capabilities of workers and boost productivity.

Data shows that in 2021, 89% of workers experienced burnout, with the burnout rate rising to 52% from 43% in 2020. Burned-out employees underperform and are more likely to resign. Therefore, as an employer, it is vital to understand the link between poor ergonomics and burnout. 

This article discusses how poor workplace ergonomics can lead to burnout and ways to prevent it for on-site and remote workers. But first, let’s discuss burnout and its causes and symptoms.

What Is Burnout?

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Workplace burnout results from work-related stress, usually caused by extreme mental and physical exhaustion. Also, workers experience burnout when they lose their sense of personal identity and have a reduced sense of accomplishment. 

An employee suffering from burnout cannot keep up with their job and life demands. They constantly feel emotionally and mentally drained. However, most employers and employees fail to recognize this in time. 

The question, therefore, is: what are the signs of workplace burnout? The following are some physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms of workplace burnout:

  • Low immunity and frequent sick leaves 

  • Change in sleep habits and appetite 

  • Recurring muscle pain or headaches 

  • Feelings of helplessness, defeat, and being trapped 

  • Feeling detached from colleagues and loved ones and alone in the world 

  • Cynical and negative outlook in life and loss of motivation 

  • Withdrawing from responsibilities 

  • Frequently procrastinating and taking longer to finish tasks  

Many thought the increase in the hybrid work culture, fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, would lead to less burnout. However, the reverse is the case; workers experience burnout now more than ever. This is because workload did not reduce and work environments did not improve. 

In fact, many employers became nonchalant about ensuring employees work in an ergonomic workspace, especially for remote employees. This endless circle of poor work practices make it difficult to deal with and overcome burnout.

Causes of Workplace Burnout

Having established the symptoms of workplace burnout, what are the causes of workplace burnout? Here are some of them:

  • Poor Ergonomics: A workplace with poor ergonomics negatively impacts employees’ moods and causes mental strain. It also slows the body’s internal processes and reduces energy levels. 

  • Unclear Job Expectations: Employees who do not know or understand their role or employer’s expectations suffer burnout. 

  • Dysfunctional Workplace Dynamics: Feeling undermined by one’s boss or colleagues or being a victim of workplace bullying can lead to burnout. 

  • Chaotic Workspace: A disorganized workplace with poor ergonomics causes burnout. 

  • Lack of Work-Life Balance: Employees who cannot spend quality time with loved ones because of their work may experience burnout. 

How Do Poor Ergonomics Lead to Workplace Burnout?

Poor ergonomic workspace can increase stress

Poor workplace ergonomics will ultimately lead to extreme stress and burnout among employees. One of the biggest mistakes most companies make is not planning for office ergonomics when designing workspaces. 

Working in an office is sedentary and can affect a worker’s long-term physical and mental well-being. When a sedentary office life is combined with poor ergonomics, the harmful effects increase. 

A poorly designed workspace and badly maintained work equipment are two examples of poor ergonomics. Other examples are lack of weight-mitigation features and non-adjustable work surfaces/workstations, including an unadjustable chair, which could lead to a compressed spine. 

In some cases, an employee may sustain bruises on their wrists and forearms due to an improper work setup. Poor ergonomics could also involve hazardous objects in the workplace and inadequate lighting. All these can stress out employees and make them irritable and depressed, leading to burnout.

How to Prevent Burnout in the Workplace

Ergonomic workplace setup

It is possible to avoid workplace burnout; however, it requires taking deliberate steps to address it. Here are some tips for preventing burnout in the workplace: 

  • Create an Ergonomic Workspace

Employers must create an ergonomic workspace to reduce the impact of burnout among employees. An ergonomic workstation should have room for knees, thighs, and feet under the desk. Provide adjustable desks and ensure that they are set at the proper height for using a laptop or desktop.

Also, the workstation should have a chair that supports the spine and an external ergonomic keyboard. There should be a mouse that fits the hand, good lighting, and any item that helps reduce stress while working. 

  • Promote Work-Life Balance 

Another way of avoiding burnout is to create a system that enables work-life balance. To do this, employers must encourage their staff to take breaks, give time off, and make working from home an option. Also, encourage employees to spend time with family and prioritize self-care.

  • Prioritize Workplace Wellness 

Organizational leaders should have a wellness plan for employees. For instance, they can create a spot where people can relax or meditate when stressed at work. Also, invest in aesthetics, focusing on soothing designs and plants.

Preventing Burnout at Home

Ergonomic workplace

Hybrid work conditions are not going away anytime soon, and more people will continue to work from home. Therefore, employers must also take steps to prevent burnout for remote employees. Here are some tips to share with employees to help improve home ergonomics set-up and reduce burnout:

  • Establish a good working posture 

  • Adjust chairs and desks to keep the body in a neutral position 

  • Monitors and other display devices should be at the proper height and distance 

  • Use appropriate keyboard and mouse configurations 

  • Reduce repetitive movements 

  • Stand up and move around at intervals 

  • Ensure the right lighting, temperature, and humidity

Continuous Ergonomic Practices by Employers

Finally, employers must constantly seek ways to promote ergonomic practices at work. They can do this by:

  • Regularly conducting ergonomics assessments

  • Investing in the right furniture and equipment

  • Building ergonomic workstations 

  • Modifying existing workstations to factor in the height of new employees 

  • Addressing environmental ergonomics (lightning, temperature, etc.)

  • Encouraging movement breaks

Invest in Ergonomics and Reduce Employee Burnout

Burnout costs companies more money than it takes to set up an ergonomic workspace. Therefore, organizations are better off investing in office ergonomics. Plus, happy employees make a business thrive and improve its bottom line. 

At Logitech, we provide tools and services for an ergonomic workplace. With our ergonomic equipment, employers can say goodbye to employee burnout and have more productive staff. Learn more about who we are and what we do here.


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