Russ: Hi I’m Russ Capper and this is BusinessMakers USA, brought to you by Insperity, inspiring business performance. Coming to you today from ATLAS Workbase in Seattle where my guest is Deborah Read, Founder, President and CEO of ErgoFit Consulting. Deborah, welcome to the show.
Deborah: Thanks for having me Russ.
Russ: You bet. Tell us about ErgoFit Consulting.
Deborah: We’re a deeply mission-driven company because we get to optimize where the employee and the work interface which makes the employee thrive, makes the company thrive and therefore the local economy thrives as well. The how we do that is sort of the technical side of what we do, but as a team we are so deeply committed to that mission of kind of – it sounds cheesy, but making the world a better place.
Russ: That’s a good mission to have. I kind of see it from the standpoint of the physical action that you take in your job but I guess there’s kind of a mental benefit to it as well, is that right?
Deborah: Yeah, you’re right. So that little bit on the how we do this triple win is we’re living and playing and intervening where the human employee and the work are interacting and we’re looking for ways to optimize them physically and mentally. So we’re looking for anything getting in the way of that, so physical fatigue, mental fatigue, risk more physically than mentally although mental errors are a risk, and injury – physical injuries. So those are sort of the 3 things we’re really dialed in on and when we fix any problems, any obstacles, that’s when we see efficiency gains as well. So the tagline that we have is improving employee productivity and reducing injuries in a single bound. That’s all around this idea of doing two things at once.
Russ: And it seems like a business in America here in 2017 is very tuned into that and interested so I assume that helps you get new customers.
Deborah: For sure, yeah. And kind of interesting is this wellness sort of approach I think you might be alluding to and the understanding of keeping employees healthy at work. Ergonomics is finally now becoming a piece of that. I started the company 16 years ago and knew that that was connected; finally the market’s catching up.
Russ: Took the rest of the world a while to catch up to you.
Deborah: It’s finally catching up and there’s definitely a crossover. There are some distinct differences but there are a lot of crossovers so the marketplace has changed. I think the Millennials expect it, expect a safe workplace where they’re comfortable.
Russ: Well that’s interesting too. 16, 17 years old I’ve always thought there’s a real value in just hanging in there.
Deborah: Me too.
Russ: So have you felt like that has something to do with your success?
Deborah: Absolutely. For sure in the recession I saw sole proprietors, and at that time there were only two of us, they were dropping out. And I decided to stick it out and I literally remember telling myself over and over again I could be the last woman standing and make it through this. So I actually chose to invest in systems in 2009. I could feel a tide change for the company, I had a lot of national exposure at that point and I was right.
Deborah: So we had kind of a decent uptick in 2009 and 2010, leveled off in 2011 and then it’s been a pretty intense growth, since then.
Russ: Say that I have a company and I sort don’t necessarily believe in what you do but had somebody recommend hey, you really ought to give this a shot, so I invited you over to explain to me why I need ErgoFit.
Deborah: Well I’ve become very passionate over the last few years about talking to executives and managers about the business case for ergonomics. What I like to say in simple terms is as I alluded to earlier there’s this human employee and work interface where humans and work come together. It isn’t just a cute little phrase to say that humans are your best asset or that employees are your best asset; it’s much deeper than that for world class companies. World class companies understand that when the human at work is optimized – so they’re doing the skill they were hired to do and they’re performing at their maximum capacity as efficiently as possible, that, and only that, allows that company to deliver exactly what the customer wants. It’s the best optimized deliverable and as a result it comes around and it optimizes the bottom line, period.
And we can flip that logic on its head and say well what if the employees are sub-optimized? They’re not working at their full potential, doing the skills that they’re hired to do because they’re tired – mentally or physically tired. They are making mistakes because of that fatigue – again, either mental or physical fatigue. The risk of their job is high, they’re absent because of pain or they actually sustain an injury. So all of those sub-optimal outcomes create a deliverable to the customer that’s sub-optimal and it wreaks havoc on the bottom line. So the average cost benefit is $1 – $45, the average payback period is 3 months. It’s an incredible secret weapon for competitive advantage if businesses will listen and understand and learn how ergonomics done well has this incredible ripple effect.
Russ: So before I let you go why don’t you share with us a great customer experience that you’ve dealt with a company and they came back to you and said Deborah, my gosh, productivity has picked up and our people are happier. What is the net result when success happens?
Deborah: A lot of outcomes don’t get measured because they don’t want to go through that process but one that comes to mind is a mail and distribution center that we worked on. It was for an internal, large company; they had their own mailroom basically so there’s shipping and receiving and delivering of packages on a campus. High rates of injury, high rates of absenteeism, so we were brought in on that negative side to respond retroactively and try to fix the problems. So we did a whole host of things from assessment to training and design changes and the net result was – this case was presented, I presented it at a conference and someone decided they wanted to analyze it. A third party wanted to analyze the financial benefit and his conclusion as that there was a 2 month payback on that project, which the cost side included our time, the employees time even to attend the trainings, the whole cost of the engineering changes; all of it. We were able to free up personnel and work on high risk areas, one FTE was eliminated which isn’t always what we’re going for but in this case it worked well because there were some aging workers.
Russ: Sounds successful to me, but I also kind of notice your passion for what you do so you must enjoy what you do I take it?
Deborah: Yeah, for sure.
Russ: Well I really appreciate you sharing your story with us today.
Deborah: Thank you Russ, I appreciate it.
Russ: You bet. And that wraps up my discussion with Deborah Read, the Founder, President and CEO of ErgoFit. And this is BusinessMakers USA.
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