Almost half of those whose know best when it comes to wellness may be neglecting their own health. A British Heart Foundation study found that 46 percent of health care workers are working while sick, skipping regular doctor visits and putting off hospital visits because they are too busy at work. These health professionals are not only setting a poor example, they are likely hurting the employers and patients they are trying to help.
Health care workers neglect not only their own health but also fail in their responsibility to care for the well being of others when they have a potentially contagious illness but don't stay home. They can spread sickness not only to their co-workers but also to their patients. Further, not staying home and resting when sick typically results in reduced productivity and can cause an illness to worsen. The work accomplished by employees while sick is frequently not worth the lost effort down the road, not to mention the suffering it can cause themselves and others.
Being needed at work is the reason 45 percent of health care workers gave for not getting annual checkups. Not surprisingly, the same number said they have health issues caused by their jobs. Many workers in other industries don't get regular checkups for the same reason, but lost time and productivity due to poor health has a significant negative impact on businesses that far outweighs the time missed for these examinations.
When health care workers delay treatment of a known health issue, the condition often worsens. In some cases this results in increased medical expenses, even more lost time and decreased productivity due to declining health. When serious health conditions such as heart problems go untreated, an employees often become too ill to perform a job altogether. This places an even greater burden on employers, who then face the expense of replacing lost employees due to disability or even death.
Companies profit when they encourage their employees to stay healthy. The growing trend of at-work wellness programs benefits both employees and employers by encouraging and supporting the efforts of workers to stay healthy. Industries lose hundreds of billions of dollars each year because employees, including health care workers, are out sick. However, 85 percent of employers who instituted workplace wellness programs reduced lost time from illness, and approximately 33 percent experienced lower worker turnover as well.
Many employers support the wellness of their workers by providing wellness programs. This trend has shown positive results, but health care is ultimately each person's own responsibility. An employer can encourage and educate you, but you must take the actions needed to care for your health. Health care workers have an even greater responsibility to the public they serve to set a positive, healthy example and to refrain from spreading illness to their patients.
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