There’s no doubt that healthcare workers and caretakers do an amazing job of helping our sick, elderly, and disabled get the support they need, but their commendable work comes with an unexpected price tag.
According to a recent research study, about 35 percent of healthcare workers are obese. It’s no wonder that so many healthcare employees grapple with chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, and hypertension, not to mention back and spine injuries.
In a perfect world, healthcare employees would be the ideal model for healthy lifestyle choices. And yet, they often find themselves struggling to take better care of themselves as they face long and difficult hours, unpredictable schedules, and uncommon amounts of stress.
On top of that, caretakers and healthcare workers typically put others’ needs before their own, neglecting to make the same healthy choices that they encourage others to stick to.
While these priorities may seem admirable, they unfortunately lead to risk factors that, if unchecked, could result in serious conditions. So, what can you do to protect your caregivers and encourage them to make healthier choices? Here are a few options to help you get started.
Healthcare workers are often prone to physical injuries like sprains, joint pain, and back injuries. That’s understandable since many spend time assisting people who are physically struggling.
They may also be exposed to hazardous chemicals, drugs, or sharp objects, which can make the workplace a bit more dangerous than the usual nine to five. That’s why it’s important to make sure that your employees are given safety training, and are given time to stretch out or relax from time to time.
Focus on Prevention
You don’t have to be Alanis Morissette to find it ironic that many healthcare workers neglect routine preventive care. With so many unexpected late nights and busy schedules, it can be difficult to stick to a schedule; however, it might be beneficial to offer some free on-site care screenings and flu shots to help encourage more proactive action.
Serve up Healthy Food Options
Working long hours, especially on nights and weekends, means that healthcare workers may not have the energy to prepare healthy meals for themselves during the rare moments of downtime that they have.
Instead, see if you can promote healthy eating habits at work by making nutritious choices available and affordable. Also, ditch the cookies in the break room for something a bit more nutritious, like fresh fruit.
Drop Some Knowledge
While it may be true that healthcare workers know more about well-being than most employees, they still need guidance. Don’t assume that your employees will magically know what to do just because they’re in the industry.
Instead, take a close look at implementing a disease management program into your employee wellness program that helps provide the information they need to minimize their risk factors and self-manage any conditions they may have.
It’s no secret that many U.S. employees skip vacation days, even when they desperately need them. According to research conducted by Project: Time Off, an estimated 429 million vacation days are wasted each year. And then we wonder why we’re so stressed out.
Healthcare workers have an important job to do, and many feel like they can’t simply walk away from their work. That commitment is admirable, but it’s important to encourage them to take some time for themselves every now and then. Doing so can help mitigate stress-related health risks and injuries.
Healthcare workers already know about the importance of wellness, and many already have a good idea of what they can do to manage their health. Instead of focusing on encouragement or motivation, it’s important to try and break down the barriers that keep them from making healthier choices.
Perhaps it’s time to dust off your internal policies and make sure that they are aligned with a culture of health that empowers your employees to take better care of themselves.