A successful business requires a productive and effective workforce. The research of scientists who study of mind, brain, and behavior has been used to improve several aspects of the business sector. Examples include identifying employee training strategies that improve safety; the development and implementation of a company-wide ergonomics program that led to $2 million in both direct and indirect cost savings; and the GLOBE project which identified behaviors consistent across cultures associated with leaders who inspire, intellectually challenge, and personally support employees.
Workplace Productivity & Savings
Based on the science of human factors and ergonomics, Honeywell developed and implemented a company-wide ergonomics program that led to $2 million in both direct and indirect cost savings, including zero repetitive-strain, musculoskeletal injuries and a 24% improvement in worker productivity. 1
Workplace Safety & Savings
The County of Monterey in California launched an ergonomics program that saved an average of $16.56 in workers’ compensation and lost work time costs for every $1.00 invested over a 3-year period, leading to more than $8.3 million dollars of savings in projected claims costs. 2-4
The GLOBE project (Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness), involving over 170 researchers from more than 60 countries, identified behaviors consistent across cultures that are associated with leaders who emotionally inspire, intellectually challenge, and personally support employees. Understanding leadership throughout the world is vital to our competitiveness and effectiveness in multinational organizations. 5,6
Workplace Training & Safety
Industrial/Organizational psychologists have identified employee training strategies that improve safety and health, as well as reduce accidents, illnesses, and injuries. A review of 95 studies of workplace safety and health training programs showed that methods that engage employees, such as behavioral modeling, significant practice, and dialogue lead to greater safety knowledge and safer task performance, and are more effective than passive methods like computer-based or distance training. 7
Goal Setting for Success
Research has shown that setting specific difficult goals has resulted in improvement on measures of quantity, quality, time spent, cost, job behaviors, etc. on over 100 different tasks, offering great potential for maximizing productivity and minimizing costs. Developed by organizational psychologists, goal-setting for employee motivation comes from repeated research evidence that when goals for a person, group, or organization are specific and difficult, both performance and job satisfaction increase. 8,9
Increased Safety in Critical Conditions
Industrial/Organizational psychologists have identified the types of skills and performance that training can enhance and the most effective team training methods that result in tangible, real world benefits of improved team performance and increased safety. In environments such as aviation, medical/surgical centers, and power plant control rooms, for example, professional teams must work effectively together to perform optimally and safely. 10,11
Improved Decision Making
Decision making research has demonstrated how the presentation of options influences outcomes. In a study of a large U.S. company, a change in retirement fund policy from opt-in to opt-out resulted in a dramatic increase in participation; 86% under the opt-out program compared to 49% of those recently hired under the opt-in policy. Thus, the design of defaults for retirement programs dramatically influences the savings behavior of employees. 12,13
- Budnick P, Osborne K. Evolution of an ergonomics process success story. The Ergonomics Report™. 2012. http://www.ergoweb.com/news/detail.cfm?id=2601. Accessed 9/7/12.
- Heller AR. Successful outcomes of an ergonomics process using an ergonomics task force. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting. July 1, 2000 2000;44(10):157-160.
- Heller-Ono A. Preventive ergonomic strategies demonstrate substantial cost benefit for small to mid-size employers. IEA proceeds, Maastricht, Nederland. 2006.
- Heller-Ono A. 21st century ergonomics: A lean approach to ergonomics process design and management. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting. October 1, 2009 2009;53(16):1013-1016.
- Javidan M, Dorfman PW, Luque MS, House RJ. In the eye of the beholder: Cross cultural lessons in leadership from project globe. The Academy of Management Perspectives ARCHIVE. 2006;20(1):67-90.
- Javidan M, Stahl GK, Brodbeck F, Wilderom CPM. Cross-border transfer of knowledge: Cultural lessons from project globe. The Academy of Management Executive (1993-2005). 2005:59-76.
- Burke MJ, Sarpy SA, Smith-Crowe K, Chan-Serafin S, Salvador RO, Islam G. Relative effectiveness of worker safety and health training methods. American Journal of Public Health. Feb 2006;96(2):315-324.
- Locke EA, Latham GP. A theory of goal setting & task performance. Prentice-Hall, Inc; 1990.
- Locke EA, Latham GP. Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation. A 35-year odyssey. American Psychologist. Sep 2002;57(9):705-717.
- Salas E, DiazGranados D, Klein C, et al. Does team training improve team performance? A meta-analysis. Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. 2008;50(6):903-933.
- Salas E, Gregory ME, King HB. Team training can enhance patient safety--the data, the challenge ahead. Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety. Aug 2011;37(8):339-340.
- Madrian BC, Shea DF. The power of suggestion: Inertia in 401(k) participation and savings behavior. Quarterly Journal of Economics. 2001;116(4):1149-1187.
- Sunstein CR. Empirically informed regulation. University of Chicago Law Review. 2011;78(4):1349-1429.