Yet that silence can be costly to your bottom line, because important health issues may be left untreated. After all, if no one talks about it, no one knows about it, and no one helps. And then you run the risk of having valuable employees who are underperforming, with higher absenteeism, turnover, and health care costs.
It’s time to bring these health issues into the open. Scores of studies, including one published in Psychiatry, point to the positive power of social support in maintaining both physical and psychological health. Simply put, people who enjoy connection and support from others have fewer health problems.
Here are some of the most common health issues people are not talking about:
1) Stress and Mental Health
Sadly, society attaches a stigma to mental health issues, and many people are loathe to admit to feelings of stress, depression, or anxiety. Not wanting to appear weak and unable to cope, employees with these feelings may even fear losing their job.
Stress not only takes a toll on relationships and work, but is linked to myriad health problems, including headaches, insomnia, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and gastrointestinal upset.
Simply acknowledging stress can help with someone’s ability to cope and move forward, according to the Harvard Business Review.
2) Weight Management
Many people have trouble controlling their weight; the fact is evident in the data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who cite that more than one-third of U.S. Americans are obese.
Not only does obesity contribute to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, it also increases the risk of some cancers. Obesity carries an estimated annual medical cost of $147 billion (as of 2008 statistics). Those who are obese have annual health and wellness costs that are almost $1,500 higher than those of a healthy weight.
3) Alcoholism and Substance Abuse
Drugs or alcohol and the workplace don’t mix: the combination results in lost productivity, poor decision making, higher turnover, absenteeism, injuries, fatalities, theft, and low employee morale, according to the National Center on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.
Add to that a significant surge in health care costs: heavy drinking can lead to illnesses like cardiovascular disease, pneumonia, cirrhosis, pancreatitis, and various cancers. It can also increase the chances of legal liabilities and worker’s compensation costs.
4) Dealing With Personal Sickness or Disease
Chronic illnesses like cancer, diabetes, arthritis, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, asthma, or Parkinson’s disease can make a person feel very isolated. The stress and isolation can extend to caregivers, too: the emotional and physical demands of caregiving (a.k.a. caregiver stress) is all too common, and can lead to burnout, weight gain or loss, agitation, headaches, and other health problems.
According to the study Effects of sleep deprivation on cognition, missing as little as 1.5 hours can impact alertness, and that’s not something you want employees deprived of.
All MeYou Health wellness programs are built around the concept of social support and engagement. The robust online communities create an environment of connectedness and support that helps to take the stigma out of many health issues. By keeping your employees motivated and empowered to make positive health changes, the yield is higher productivity, lower absenteeism, and a happier workforce.
About the Author:
Sheryl Kraft has written for JAMA, WebMD, Family Circle, Prevention and Bottom Line Health on a wide range of health, fitness, nutrition and wellness topics. She is also the author of the blog, My So-Called Midlife – Growing Older, Feeling Fabulous