Our Work Place is New Doctor’s Office

According to the Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, chief medical officer for prevention at the American Heart Association, “Health happens everywhere” it’s not only in the doctor’s office. In a recent article in Time magazine, Jamie Ducharme discusses work related health issues with Dr Sanchez.

Given that the average employed U.S. adult spends more of their waking hours working than doing just about anything else, that includes the workplace.

-Dr. Eduardo Sanchez in The Time

Laura Linnan, director of the University of North Carolina’s Collaborative for Research on Work and Health, told Time, “Work-related stress is one culprit for health problems, since unmanaged stress can contribute to heart disease, insomnia, gastrointestinal issues, and other chronic conditions. Long hours on the job can also cut into time that would otherwise be spent sleeping, exercising, cooking, seeing loved ones, or doing other activities that can boost wellness. Such problems are most effectively fixed when employers change workplace conditions, rather than leaning on workplace wellness initiatives as a Band-Aid.”

We can provide all the coping strategies and stress-management programs possibles. But if we put employees back in an environment where the work pace is out of control, the staffing is wrong, there’s a toxic supervisor—no amount of stress management is going to save that.

– Laura Linnan in Time

The following is the Time’s suggested approach to making the workplace a better place to work:

  • Find control and meaning in work. “Autonomy in the workplace is a powerful thing. Studies show that the level of control someone has over their work predicts how their job will affect their physical and mental health, sometimes more than workload alone. On the flip side, lacking autonomy is a known risk factor for burnout, a condition characterized by feeling exhausted by, disengaged from, and cynical about work.
  • Acknowledge and reward good work. “Fair pay is the most obvious and impactful form of workplace reward, and one with clear links to better health. But research suggests even verbal acknowledgement, such as bosses praising or thanking their direct reports for their work, can improve employee well-being.
  • Create flexible work environments. “Demanding workplaces can contribute to health problems. But some studies also show it’s not that difficult to make a meaningful shift.
  • Foster social support in the workplace. “Socializing at work may seem unimportant—or downright emotionally draining—but it can be surprisingly beneficial, experts say. Some research even suggests people who have strong social support at work have a reduced risk of premature death, in addition to better mental health and job satisfaction.

“Overall well-being is about mental, physical, spiritual, emotional, [and financial health]. They all interrelate,” Linnan told Times.