The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that workplace illnesses and injuries cost U.S. employers $225.8 billion annually in 2015. With the traditional 9-5 or 40 hour work week, our offices are essentially our second home. We all wish we could be immune to illnesses and injuries, but it’s simply a fact of life that we are going to have to use some of those sick days we’ve been so desperately saving up.
Workplace illnesses equal unhappy employees
Making sure that your employees are happy and healthy improves productivity, attracts new talent, increases retention, and decreases overall health care costs. These days, employees want more from their employers. They want to see that their employers care about their health and wellbeing. Let’s look into the most common workplace illnesses and how we can tackle them as employees and managers:
The 3 most commmon workplace illnesses
Any kind of pain that affects the muscles, bones, nerves and tendons can be characterised as musculoskeletal pain. Usually caused by overuse, the most common type is back pain. Affecting over ⅓ of the population of working adults, musculoskeletal pain in the back is usually caused by poor posture, lifting heavy objects improperly, or spending extended amounts of time sitting.
In order to prevent these injuries, take regular breaks throughout the day to stretch. As a manager, you can kill two birds with one stone by setting up periodic “team stretches”. These breaks are a great opportunity for some team bonding and enhancing better communication within the group, while preventing workplace injuries for your employees by initiating stretching breaks.
The workplace can make a significant impact on employees’ mental health, especially in high stress environments. Mental illnesses come in many shapes and sizes, and almost one in five Americans have some sort of mental illness. Disregarding the large population of people affected, it is the most overlooked illness in the workplace due to the long standing stigmas that have kept employees silent. With the common cold, employers understand the recovery process and roughly what they are going through, but this usually isn’t the case with mental illnesses. The lack of understanding on the employer side can make things significantly worse for those employees. Not being able to speak about their mental illnesses adds to the preexisting stress, making them feel isolated. Because of the lack of communication, valued employees may decide to leave the company in search of someone else who can provide better support.
As a solution, create an open-door policy if you don’t already have one, and make it a point to discuss mental health at work. Have workshops led by licensed professionals in order to have these discussions with your team. The more employees and their managers are educated about mental illnesses, the easier it becomes to talk about them without the fear of being discriminated against.
Cold and Flu
We’ve all been there: runny nose, sore throat, foggy head, fever, cough, muscle aches, etc. When you’re feeling terrible, and want to just stay in bed curled up with the blinds closed, STAY HOME! The office is a virus’ ideal breeding ground. Viruses and colds can spread easily through an entire office, taking people out left and right. Nobody wants to get sick, especially if that means you’re coming back to an overflowing inbox.
Aside from staying home and resting, you can prevent getting sick by frequently disinfecting high traffic areas, like doorknobs, phones, keyboards, etc. As managers, it may be good to put up signs during flu season to make employees extra aware so they can take preventative measures. The best way to keep yourself healthy though, is making sure you’re maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, and getting enough sleep.
Investing in your employees’ health leads to success
With how much time we spend working, the office should be an enjoyable and safe place to be. Employers should be cognizant of the different types of workplace illnesses ranging from musculoskeletal pains, mental illnesses, colds, the flu, and much, much more. Investing in your employees’ health and wellness can be a great ROI, and you’ll see the difference in your KPIs and analytics for HR.
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