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  Manufacturing Insights   |   December, 2009
Improving Bottom-Line Productivity : Reducing Manufacturing Workplace Stress
by Thomas R. Cutler
 

Given the bottom-line impact of stress on the plant floor to the executive suite, more manufacturers are implementing regular massage for workers as a measure to reduce the physical and mental effects of stress; the result is reducing burnout and stress related diseases, and increasing productivity.

Nearly three-fourths (74%) of manufacturing workers reported in a national survey that their job is very stressful. Stress is the leading cause of disability in the manufacturing workplace, costing employers billions of dollars a year in lost productivity and healthcare costs.

Vincent Monforte, LMT and creator of the VTouch Method (www.VTouchmassage.com), noted that, “Companies that understand lean manufacturing principles quickly grasp that stress is costly and wasteful. By offering massage therapy to employees goes far beyond a perk, and increases employee health, productivity, and morale."

The results of regular massages at the workplace provides quantifiable and immediate results — the employees experience stress reduction and greater satisfaction with their jobs.

The manufacturing marketing research division of TR Cutler, Inc., sponsored the national survey of more than one hundred U.S. manufacturers; all show that massage improved bottom line of employers. The study found that after twelve weeks, 269 employees who had once-weekly, 45-minute massages in the manufacturing workplace had dramatically better productivity, reduced absenteeism, included far fewer doctor visits, than a control group of 250 employees who did not receive the massage therapy. The massaged group experienced reduced stress and improved performance, while the control group did not. Using electroencephalograms (EEG), researchers measured alpha and beta waves in both groups, and found massage recipients to be more alert. Stress hormones in the saliva of the massaged group were lower than in the control group. The massaged workers completed math problems in half the time as normal and with half the errors they had before the massage. The math skills of the control group did not improve. The massage recipients verbally reported they were less fatigued and more clear-headed.

Precise data regarding the number of manufacturers, industrial and distribution operations offering massage therapy onsite is not available, however many industry leaders including Boeing, Apple Computer, PepsiCo, Sony Music and United Airlines have realized the efficacy and cost-benefit of providing massage.

The VTouch Method specifically addresses the sources of physical stress and contracts with manufacturers and other industrial organizations by scheduling massage appointments to accommodate the shift schedules. Monforte noted, “The benefits of a therapeutic massage in the workplace are dramatic. This systematic approach relieves physical problems associated with repetitive tasks, while balancing the effects of stress and reducing tension headaches as well as anxiety levels, and allows the employee to avoid stress related diseases and dysfunction.”

By triggering a stress free response there is an improvement in immune system function, which reduces absenteeism, one of the most measurable economic impacts on the manufacturing sector. In the national survey, absenteeism was reduced by more than 50% among those receiving weekly massages. The savings to the manufacturing organization was 1000% greater than the actual cost of the massages, which averaged less than $4000 per month.

Diane Lippman, a Master Six Sigma Black Belt personal productivity expert, and workshop leader recently commented that, “Workers need to realize how much time they waste. Time cannot be managed, only behavior. Manufacturers are paying the price for disorganization, unclear goals, too many personal phone calls, disjointed processes, no routines, poor planning, procrastination, lack of focus, lack of training, junk e-mail and other distractions. These activities are stealing productivity hours from most manufacturers and working in that paradigm is an absolute breeding ground for stress.”

Monforte’s organization works with companies to provide measurable impacts along with unique certified VTouch Method massage therapists specifically trained and assigned to impact the efficiencies achieved through stress reduction. Monforte noted, “Just as lean operations call for continued process improvement, stress is wasteful element that can be dramatically reduced. The role of massage in reducing stress provides a direct pathway to improved quantifiable productive metrics. Evaluating the cost of stress via lost productivity will drive more manufacturers to offer experienced professional massage solutions which can quickly stop the wasteful time hemorrhaging.”



Thomas R. Cutler is the President & CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based, TR Cutler, Inc, (www.trcutlerinc.com). Cutler is the founder of the Manufacturing Media Consortium of three thousand five hundred journalists and editors writing about trends in manufacturing. Cutler is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, Online News Association, American Society of Business Publication Editors, Committee of Concerned Journalists, as well as author of more than 300 feature articles annually regarding the manufacturing sector. Cutler is also the developer of lean technology C.E.O (Continuous Experiential Optimization). Cutler can be contacted at trcutler@trcutlerinc.com. See More Details.

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