Posted October 2nd 2020 - Jason Desaulniers
An issue that isn’t brought to light very often is the health and well being of people in the Canadian workplace. Did you know that over half of Canadian adults suffer from some type of chronic disease? These diseases affect them mentally, physically and can take a toll on their jobs as well. As an employer it’s important for you to recognize these concerns with your employees health and know what options there are for them.
The most common diseases in the Canadian workplace are: diabetes, arthritis, high cholesterol , mental illness, & hypertension. So what can you do as an employer to help your employees manage their illnesses? Let’s talk about some top ways to help manage employee health in the workplace.
Everyone will experience stress at one point or another in their lifetime, especially at work. Even in a more relaxed work environment, stress can still arise and it’s never healthy. Stress can be caused by too much work leading to missed deadlines, long hours without adequate breaks, tension between employees, challenging customers or clients and lack of communication. What can you as the boss do to help eliminate stress? Let’s look at communication first. Communication, or lack of, can cause a lot of stress for your employees. If they are worried about something, going through troubling times or under stress for any other reason but feel they cannot communicate that to you, the employer, it could lead to even more stress for them.
Remind employees that your line of communication is always open and you have a judgment free approach where they can bring their concerns to you so together you can work on a solution. If they are really butting heads with another staff member, maybe put them on opposite shifts or move offices to give them more space from each other.
Employee health is so important for them and for you. Where would you be if you were always getting sick calls or had people leaving because of stress? Many of the illnesses we mentioned are made worse by large amounts of stress, so what are some other ways to help eliminate that stress?
- Start each day off with a mindful morning meeting. Talk about your important points but consider ending the meeting with coffee and casual talk.
- Encourage staff to use their breaks for a quick walk outside.
- Allow a few extra breaks during the day
- Consider splitting up larger workloads amongst more people to make it easier on everyone.
- Bring in some calming decor if you don’t already have it. Real plants are proven to reduce stress and can bring a sense of calm to the workplace.
- Have more gatherings and celebrations with your employees. Celebrate milestones, birthdays and holidays with a potluck lunch, a gathering in the staff room and baked goodies. This gives people a chance to interact with each other on topics not circled around work and more stress.
- Ensure everyone is using comfortable office seating and offer standing desks if you can. Discomfort in the workplace is a large contributor to stress.
- Encourage your employees to skip multitasking. While it seems effective, it’s actually just the opposite. People often become “frazzled” and stressed when they are managing too many things at the same time. Encourage them to take it one job at a time. This also ensures that each job gets full attention.
Help Accommodate Those With a Chronic Disease
If you can work with your team to manage stress in the workplace, that’s half the battle. But what can you do to continue supporting those employees with health concerns? It’s up to you as the employer to keep them working, but in a way that is comfortable for them. If you have an employee suffering from arthritis, team them up with someone who isn’t in chronic pain and assign them tasks that don’t take a toll on their body.
Your employees health, especially mental health, should always be on your radar too. Watch for signs of someone struggling and offer some help. Sometimes a listening ear is all someone needs. If you notice someone really struggling, allow them to take some stress leave without guilt and with 0 work related contact. Encourage them to participate in the light-hearted gatherings we mentioned (if they normally don’t) and allow that great communication we talked about too.
Instead of seeing an employee with an illness as a roadblock, allow them to make a shift in what they are currently doing and give them something they can excel at. Maybe you have a staff member who can no longer lift heavy items, but they are quick on a keyboard. Could you switch them to a desk position and put their other great skills to work?
Offer Them Benefits
What is almost guaranteed to come along with chronic disease? Pain, medication and higher medical costs. Employees who don’t have adequate coverage and are suffering may just pack up and find a place willing to offer coverage. Things like massage therapy, drug coverage, medical equipment coverage for things like ergonomic chairs & desks and services like physio can make all the difference in your employees health.
Health Spending Accounts
Along with a great benefits package that will cover them for vision, dental and prescription costs, having a package with a health spending account is critical for helping those with chronic illness. These accounts allow your employees to get services like physiotherapy, massage therapy and chiropractic services that all contribute to better managing their chronic pain.
Employee Assistance Plans
An EAP is another really important thing to look for when you are trying to find the best packages for your employees. An EAP is almost essential these days, but why? Because more and more people are suffering with mental health concerns and those people simply do not have it in their budget to seek a healthcare professional. Just like those employees suffering with a physical chronic disease, the ones suffering with mental health issues need help. A EAP, like the ones offered in all of the Chamber Plans, allow your employees to get help with problems like; family, addiction, financial, personal and more.
The EAPs even offer help for YOU as the owner/manager to ensure that you are getting the help you may need.
Not sure where to start with employee benefits, health spending accounts and employee assistance plans? Seek the help of a team that knows what options are best for you. BP Group Solutions is a team of industry professionals that can guide you through the process of getting your entire team set up with a great benefits package, EAPs and HSAs.
Start making your employee’s health a priority and keep everyone on your team happy, healthy, stress free and loving the workplace.