From teen years through adulthood, people spend much of their time at work. A culture of wellness in the workplace can be an important factor in overall health by promoting and supporting healthy behaviors. It’s important that both employees and employers take steps to create an environment that promotes health and well-being. Although employees are always in control of their own choices to improve health, employers can create a culture of wellness by implementing policies and providing services that support employees’ efforts towards a healthy lifestyle. When employees and employers work together to create healthier worksites, people can get healthier and be happier and more productive at work.
Employers can promote wellness among their workforce with diverse activities such as on-site health education, access to free medical screenings, on-site kitchens and healthy food options, financial or other incentives for healthy habits such as being tobacco-free, and much more. Healthy behaviors lead to lower health risks, and lower health risks lead to less chronic disease. With less chronic disease, employees often have fewer healthcare costs and are more productive.
Employees should practice self-care and be given the space to do so at work. Things like saying no to tasks or projects you can’t complete, being honest and open with employers/supervisors about your needs, setting boundaries with your coworkers, and asking for help when you need it may feel difficult in a work setting but are important considerations in avoiding burnout and getting the support you require to do the job. It’s equally important to take breaks away from work, have a clean workspace, eat healthy and drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Some industries have “crunch” periods that require workers to operate unhealthy hours. Overwork affects employee health as well as workplace productivity. Evidence shows productivity declines sharply after as few as four days of extended work hours. Compared to those working 35-40 hours a week, employees who work more than 55 hours a week are twice as likely to experience shortened sleep hours and to wake up without feeling refreshed, 3.7 times more likely to find it difficult to fall asleep, and have higher risks for heart disease or stroke. People who work 11+ hour days have an almost 2.5 times higher risk of experiencing a major depressive episode compared to those working 7-8 hour days. Disrupting one’s work-life balance can affect worker health, productivity, and retention.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, workplace wellness has grown to involve our homes and added a greater focus on mental health. All industries have had to make changes to the way businesses can be operated safely, protect the public, and support their staff. Over 41% of American workers were remote full-time in 2020, with an expected 26% to stay working from home in 2021. Lower-income workers are more likely to not have the option of teleworking while being at higher risk of exposure to COVID-19.
The NeedyMeds website has a database of over 18,000 free, low-cost, or sliding scale clinics across the United States and its territories. Search your ZIP code for clinics in your area to find free or low-cost medical attention. There are over 6,000 free/low-cost clinics listed that offer mental health services. We also list over 100 nationwide resources for those who have been impacted by COVID-19. The free NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card can be used by anyone to help save money on their prescribed medication — even over-the-counter medicine prescribed by a doctor — regardless of immigration status. The card is available physically via mail, in a printable form, or as a smartphone app for Apple and Android devices. For more help finding information, call our toll-free helpline Monday-Friday 9am-5pm Eastern Time at 1-800-503-6897.