The impact of chronic disease on workplace and strategies to fight them
Today chronic disease is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. Almost 75 percent of all deaths are caused by one or more of the five most common chronic diseases – heart disease, diabetes, stroke, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer. To be more precise, the chronic disease causes every seven out of 10 deaths in the United States; that’s more than 1.7 million deaths every year. In spite of that, the number of people living with chronic diseases is proliferating.
Chronic disease affects approximately 133 million Americans (roughly half of the population). One in every four American adults has two or more of these diseases at any given time. These chronic diseases are responsible for reduced quality of life, long-lasting disability, and increases hospital readmission rates, adversely impacting health and long-term survival.
The burden of chronic disease has not only impacted the health and quality of life negatively, but it has also been a significant driver of ever-increasing healthcare costs. CDC suggests that chronic disease accounts for 75 percent of total healthcare expenditure every year – which is approximately $5300 per person. This statistic is even more disturbing for health insurance, as 96 cents of Medicare and 83 cents of Medicaid for every dollar spend is toward the treatment of chronic disease.
Corporate Wellness App
The devastating impact of chronic disease also reflects on workforce productivity and the organization’s financial performance. Chronic diseases are responsible for a few of the most costly health conditions for the US. Employers, causing reduced employee morale and productivity, increased rates of absenteeism and presenteeism, and high healthcare costs incurred by these employers. The CDC reports that productivity losses linked to absenteeism cost employers $225.8 billion annually in the United States – approximately $1,685 per worker – each year.
Now, when it comes down to fighting the challenges of chronic disease, the role of workplace wellness cannot be over-stressed. Workers spend almost half of their time at work- more than 40 hours per week – therefore, they are continuously exposed to the various risk factors for chronic diseases, such as physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, and work-related stress. Thus, the culture of health practiced at the workplace plays a huge role in improving or spoiling workers’ health.
How do you create a healthy workplace culture? As an employer, you need to focus on two key factors: encouraging healthy workplace behaviors among employees and redesigning the work environment with an employee-first approach.
Although some employers might believe that this is something the employees can achieve by themselves, but providing a well-planned workplace wellness programs may be a more effective way of helping employees to not only modify their unhealthy behaviors but also to adopt healthy ones. Workplace wellness programs, involves health education, health risk assessment sessions, and employee engagement activities, incentives for healthy habits, etc. – all aimed at preventing and managing these diseases among workers.
The physical environment, organizational structure, and psycho-social aspects of work are also vital contributors to chronic disease. A well-planned approach to addressing chronic disease in the workplace involves tackling these aspects of the workplace, alongside changing their unhealthy habits.
For example, the WHO reports that approximately 8 to 16 percent of all cancers are caused by preventable work hazards such as carbon monoxide, carbon disulfide, and lead. These are also substantial risk factors for cancer and other cardiovascular diseases.
Psycho-social stressors at work, such as poor work-life balance, long working hours, tight work schedule, high-demand-low-control work, and high-effort-low-reward jobs also increase the risk of chronic disease. These psycho-social stressors are responsible for about 15 percent to 35 percent of cases of cardiovascular disease.
Besides, poor workplace design that blocks efficiency, poor environmental conditions, such as low lights, heat and vibration issues, also lead to chronic diseases. In a recent study, researchers found that long term exposure to noise in the workplace may also be associated with certain heart conditions.
To fight these issues, an employer needs to adopt a systemic approach at every level. At the organizational level, jobs should be redesigned to take an employee-first approach; workplace stress should be taken care of with more control over workers tasks and the environment around them, providing positive reinforcements and incentives and performance-based rewards, and prioritizing a healthy work-life balance. In terms of physical environments, employers need to invest in eliminating or reducing workers’ exposure to all kinds of physical hazards, invest in the repair, maintenance, and replacement of heating, ventilating, lighting and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to improve the quality of air and ensure proper lighting at every workstation.
Most employers in the United States have already understood the importance of workplace wellness programs in fighting chronic diseases. Are you one of them? If not, then you should talk with the CircleCare team. This workplace wellness app offers a comprehensive workplace wellness program that improves employee health and positively impacts your organization’s bottom line.