Employee Maintenance – A simple analogy:

On average, the total annual amount an employer will spend on each employee is 2.4 times their salary. Employees require maintenance, just like a car or any other piece of equipment. This example is not meant to diminish the value of employees. It was written to highlight and place a high value on the people employers count on to do the work. That is to say, that if you want either one or both of them to perform, last and not cost you more than you bargained or budgeted for. So let’s use a car to draw an employee maintenance comparison.

Employer Perspective: In this example let’s say your car is worth $50,000. Let’s also say that this is the same amount you pay each employee, every year. Hmm, that doesn’t seem right. Maybe that’s not a fair comparison, after all there are many more costs to having an employee beyond their pay, right (2.4 times). And of course you value a living person way more than a car. If your car is running right (efficiently) it gets better mileage and it will take good care of you. It won’t let you down and won’t cost you an arm and a leg in the long run, at least not more than you bargained for when you bought it.

If your car (employee) is running right, it’s making you money (or at least not costing you additional money). You know a new, or higher priced car will outperform and outlast a cheaper car, or a used car (employees all come with mileage). You know you can’t afford a Ferrari, so you go for the best value, the best car (employee) you can afford. With a firm belief that the right balance can be achieved with rigorous maintenance and a real commitment to take care of your investment, you decide a high-end eco-friendly SUV will do the job. So let’s put a $100,000.00 value on your car (and also on your employee). One last point before moving on; even if you use the 50k amount, this employee, the car you just bought, has a base price of $1,500,000.00 (50k x 30 years). Now that’s “sticker shock” when you look at it this way!

So you bought the car (pay your employee). Everything runs tip top in the beginning (we hope), but some cars do come with built in problems (just like people do). Now you put your “car” to work, driving it 8 hours a day, sometimes even longer. Over time the engine, tires and suspension experience what is called “normal” wear and tear. You know that in order to make your car last you need to at least change the oil (don’t forget, you promised to maintain it so it would maintain its value). That’s easy right, or is it? You know by the miles on the odometer or the sticker on the windshield that it’s time to change the oil (not so easy when you have hundreds of employees, all with different mileages and made in a wide range of years and models). After all, we all keep close track of that magic oil change number. If you don’t act your car will repeatedly warn you, even pester you until you silence the alarm. So you give in, make a mental note do what you know needs to be done. You know if you don’t act soon the car may suffer from unnecessary (and costly) wear and tear. Maybe you take it to the dealer or to the best mechanic you can find because you really care about your car. It is valuable after all. Maybe you take it to a 5 minute drive through because that’s all the time you have. You might even have a mechanic at work that can change it for you, if there’s time. Maybe there’s some oil that came free with the purchase of something else (like insurance) and you can change it for free. Even better, right? But it still requires time and either way action is required, so you take the best action possible for you. After all each method gets you fresh oil right. There’s just one more decision to make though. Do you put the $2.99 Acme Oil in your 100k car, or do you pay a little more and get the best oil possible, especially given your value added maintenance goals. Good decision, get the best! Now you are all set.

But wait, on the way back home you noticed that the ride isn’t as smooth as it once was. For some reason the road seems bumpier now. What happened? Should you have paid a little more and got the car diagnosed at the same time as the oil change? Would you trust the 5 minute place to do much more than the basics? Probably not!

Your oil is changed now, so you can check off that box for 3,000 more miles, but your car still doesn’t ride like it used to, and that’s bothering you. You know that’s not a good thing. Something has gone wrong or maybe something else will break down if you don’t take action. Is it the road? Is it your car? Come to think of it, it’s been 30,000 miles since the last time you purchased tires (how time does go by). If you recall, the sales person told you the best way to make those tires last is to bring the car in every 5,000 miles and have the tires rotated and balanced (we all know that but it’s just one more thing to do). The tires cost you $250.00 each (ouch), and the salesperson told you that because of the wear and tear from road conditions (like the dreaded potholes), coupled with your driving habits and technique (just think how you might drive a car if it wasn’t yours), that you need to have the alignment and suspension checked regularly. This is done in order to avoid unnecessary wear and tear (cumulative trauma and stress), and to abate well-known future problems or consequences (MSDs, sprains, strains, CTS, etc.). It used to be that a car (employee) could go many miles on smooth, easy to follow roads, but these days your car takes a beating because there are so many holes in the road drivers can’t avoid them all. Last time you were in the shop you either didn’t have the time, or maybe the money (you can’t remember) to get all of this done.

So now it’s time for a trip to the suspension specialist. You might get the tires balanced for free (maybe you paid more for the tires to get this free service and the opportunity to talk to the salesperson again – think Worker’s Comp insurance), or you might have to pay for the balancing, but you know that you will get an immediate positive payback, like substantially less wear and tear on the tires (which adds stress to the suspension – and the spine), and a smother more enjoyable ride. This time you pay $50.00 to get your suspension system diagnosed (an MSD Audit, Risk & Hazard Assessment), and $150.00 to get your front end aligned and your tires spun balanced (expert, effective MSD education & training). After all why not do it right, a $200.00 investment in your $100,000 investment is certainly a sound investment. Wow, fresh oil, new fuel, well-balanced tires, and a suspension system that drives straight and true, making it easier to navigate the potholes. Now everything is in good working condition! You can now relax, right?

How long does that time in the shop last you? Let’s take a look. After 30,000 more miles, your car’s “experience” on the road (employee wear and tear from job tasks and duties) has once again taken a toll. The result of using your car (worker) has accumulated over time (cumulative trauma). All of those potholes (cumulative stress, at-risk behaviors, inefficient postures, age, poor nutrition, poorly designed equipment, etc.) on the road, along with the weather (near-misses, poor morale and communications, discipline, and of course the surrounding culture), and other factors (of which there are many) is jeopardizing, or putting your car (your employee) at risk of failure. Come to think about it, maybe it’s time for another check-up and to do some much needed maintenance. After all times change and people too. How many repetitive tasks, motions or unhealthy postures does it take to add up to 30,000 miles on any given employee? An annual check-up is recommended for blood work and blood-pressure, but those do nothing to prevent MSD Injuries in people.

So, you decide to get a diagnostic from a specialist (us) so you can see (and manage) what else may be lurking under the hood, that metal exterior that you can’t see through in order to see what’s really wrong without some outside expertise (just like you can’t see inside an employee, so you really don’t know what ails them, if their backs hurt or not). Diagnostics used to be easy years ago, but today with all of the complicated technology (rules, regulations, healthcare, Workers’ Comp, legal issues, etc., etc.), you need an expert diagnostician and the experience of a specialist who’s valuable recommendations will ensure that your car will run right.

Since you have gained a better perspective on important maintenance issues and engaged a specialist (Accurate Ergonomics), you now are able to clearly see the effects of the wear and tear from potholes (poor nutrition, too much caffeine, salt, and sugar, not enough core strengthening or flexibility, repetitive motions, overexertion, loss of strength, advance in years, and more). You now realize you need a more comprehensive maintenance plan because a lot of the wear and tear which has occurred, resulted from things you really didn’t even anticipate (like a 500% increase in the number of potholes, plus 2, 4, 6, 10 or more new injuries every year – a cumulative and costly problem), probably didn’t plan for (aging workers, injured workers now 5x more likely to get reinjured, etc.), and maybe didn’t even budget for (rising costs of healthcare, Workers’ Comp, disability). You also have come to the enlightened conclusion that it’s time to do some major (not minor) maintenance, maybe even start at the beginning (after all people don’t get an owner’s manual for their spine when they are born). If only you could turn back the hands of time right, things would be different, I promise! That is exactly what we do. When Accurate Ergonomics engages with your employees it is often just like giving them a fresh start on life. A much better life!

Employees need to take pause, a break from their everyday duties. Employees need to disengage in the production side of their tasks and duties (the “get-er-done” side where there’s never enough time for everything, especially their own health and well-being, or to learn new skills), so that they can look at the road travelled and have new light shed on their path going forward. This dedicated, “active-caring” training time allows everyone an opportunity to reflect on, discuss and share their challenges and experiences to date. In this way they can look at their map, get new directions, and adjust their course so that they are now able to efficiently reach the next destination by avoiding pitfalls and by filling in their own potholes.

Employees need routine maintenance (dynamic and effective post diagnostic training – not a video). We recommend an annual check-up and tune-up for every person with a spine in your organization! During this critical “maintenance time,” employees are provided meaningful education and training by our MSD Specialists, they are updated with new and exciting information, taught new countermeasures, and are provided advanced biomechanics skills and behavior-change motivation. New and existing challenges and hazards are uncovered and employees and leaders alike make new commitments to eliminate risk and at-risk behaviors for the good of all. Whatever dust and dirt which may have collected since their last training (something didn’t get repaired, someone got injured, or there are new employees and supervisors that haven’t yet been trained), we take care of it all at the same time. The best part is that our “body-mechanics specialists,” don’t just provide the tune-up, our specialists ride along afterwards to ensure the work takes hold and they encourage second-nature, everlasting change.

Potholes don’t just happen, our vehicles (our postures while sitting, standing, and tasking) create them, along with some help from inclement weather (habits, society, and culture). This is a two-way street. By traveling the road of life we not only fall into the potholes created by others, we actually dig our own holes. Collectively these holes wear us out, damaging our engine and our suspension (musculoskeletal and nervous systems), especially if we are unaware or careless of how we use them, even one time. Time goes by and people ignore their own maintenance (lube, oil, and filter changes). Cumulative trauma and stress is taken somewhat for granted until the brakes stop working (we get hurt/experience pain).

Our system begins by diagnosing your car (employees), looking at maintenance records and the number of breakdowns (OSHA 300’s). We look at leading indicators and warning lights, and even look at what kind of gas (fuel) is being used to keep your cars (employees) running clean, efficiently, and without MSD Injuries.

Poor maintenance shows up eventually and usually costs us dearly. What gets more maintenance now, your forklifts or your drivers, your equipment or your workforce? There may be areas where you might be able to cut back, but workforce maintenance should never be one of them, not unless you are willing to pay a hefty price. You can get a few dollars when you trade in equipment or your car, but when employees are not at work, and when they leave work for good, no matter the reason (but hopefully not from an MSD Injury or disability), they cease making you money and only cost you. Your goal is to get the highest and best use possible out of your $3.6 million dollar investment(s). Ours is to provide you with a healthy, injury-free workforce which is able to work and live a healthy, long and productive life at work, at home, and when they leave your employ.

The Cost of MSD Injuries