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How many times have we heard people ask, ‘What’s your return on investment on that project’ or ‘How much are we going to make and will it be profitable’? The principle of a return on investment (ROI) is to ensure that your investment receives the same amount of money back – or even more. From the prism of corporate wellness, when we invest in our workers we are also investing in our return. This is even more important in today’s world as much of the ongoing workforce is exposed to the Coronavirus. Keeping our workforce in the best shape possible, with the strongest immune systems, entails addressing their needs from the top of their heads to the tips of their toes.
As it relates to the tips of the toes, without proper foot support and shock absorption, workers who walk or stand for long periods of time during their workday are susceptible to pain and harmful musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) that can have lasting effects on the body (ErgoPlus). Just as steel-toe footwear is often required as personal protective equipment for workers, insoles are essential for preventing pain and fatigue. Aches and pains in the body associated with foot issues can also impact workers’ knees and back. Understandably, this can result in reduced employee work productivity, absenteeism or, in terms of individual employee efficiency, a less than optimal return on your investment.
Poor Foot Support Can Cost Employers Big $$$$
Employees who work on their feet everyday are at higher risk of MSDs. Physical work requirements within manufacturing, construction, healthcare, transportation, and similar industries include prolonged standing, static postures, overexertion, and repetitive motion, which can lead to aches, pain, and injuries on the job. Standing five hours a day contributes to significant and prolonged lower-limb muscle fatigue, raising your risk for long-term back pain and musculoskeletal disorders (WebMD). A recent study in Human Factors details that almost half of all workers worldwide spend more than three-quarters of their workday standing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 60,000 foot injuries per year result in lost work days and the average cost of a lost work day foot injury is $9,600. (Occupational Health & Safety).
Investing In Your Employees Feet = Growing Your Own Bottom Line
Every seven seconds a worker suffers from an injury on the job (Corporate Wellness Magazine.Com). Let’s face it, investing funds into any project certainly comes with a responsibility of understanding the potential for returns. Therefore, ROI is an important aspect of corporate wellness nowadays. Ignoring foot care can escalate many issues with employee health including, but not limited to, soreness of the feet, legs, knees, hips, and lower back, as well as balance issues. The end result is joint and muscle pain throughout the body in addition to overall fatigue. These problems are especially acute when the work environment includes hard surfaces, which are common in many workplaces both indoors and outdoors.
When employees are suffering from pain and fatigue, they are less energetic and less productive. Not only does morale take a hit but pain may also lead to lost-time injuries. Thankfully, solutions exist today that can reduce the negative impact of the work environment on employees' feet.
Insoles vs. Matting
Organizations usually consider two options to reduce employee pain and fatigue. Insoles and floor matting. Insoles offer numerous advantages compared to anti-fatigue mats, including easier installation, reduced costs, and the ability to protect mobile workers. However, there are numerous types of insoles available and workers require different insoles to address various levels of comfort and support for different job functions.
Personal insoles offer flexibility to both employees and organizations, making them an attractive solution (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety). These benefits include:
- Ability to wear anywhere. Insoles can be implemented instantly without training and go wherever the worker goes. This makes them an ideal solution for both stationary and mobile workers who work both indoors and outdoors.
- Personalized comfort. Employees can select the type of insole that best matches their needs, allowing for personalized comfort based on their size, foot characteristics, and arch type.
- Direct contact with the body. As insoles are placed inside the footwear, they provide an ergonomic solution 100% of the time.
- Reduced risk. Insoles reduce the risks of slips, trips, and falls by increasing balance, making the workplace safer and lowering expenses related to workers’ compensation claims. With matting, the edges could curl up and create tripping hazards.
- Easy to implement. Insole programs are simple to implement, particularly if you have conducted a wear trial with a key group of employees first.
- Cost effective. Insoles are more affordable than floor matting. Quality insoles can also stand the test of time, resulting in infrequent replacement.
Choosing the Correct Insole for Each Individual
To select the right insole for each employee, it's essential to determine what is needed most—shock absorption, support, or addressing pre-existing foot conditions. Finding an insole that offers customizable comfort options allows companies to offer a solution for workers in any environment.
Insoles that provide shock absorption can be used to prevent health and pain issues, while those that provide more support can move the foot into the correct neutral position and realign it with other body parts. Insoles that are designed to properly support arches are not the same as insoles that are formed to the exact shape of one’s foot. Heat-molding orthotic devices do not have a measurable effect on the biomechanical variables compared to the non-molded condition, because they’re not firm enough to provide corrective support (Journal of Foot & Ankle Research). Most importantly, these types of insoles reinforce the incorrect arch that's already causing foot pain and don’t offer pronation control.
Investing in your employees’ health, especially as it relates to workers on their feet all day, will pay immeasurable dividends. Not only will there be quantifiable benefits to the bottom line in the form of more productive and efficient employees, but priceless benefits achieved when employees are happier and healthier as well.