Poll: How Workplace Affects Employee Health

The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health reports that “A new NPR/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health poll finds that more than four in ten working adults (44%) say their current job has an impact on their overall health, and one in four (28%) say that impact is positive.”

The report, titled The Workplace and Health, states that “This poll sought to answer seven main questions related to health in the workplace:”

  1. What relationship do adults see between their workplace and their health?
  2. What health benefits are offered to workers to improve their personal health, do workers use these benefits, and what are the reasons why they use or do not use these benefits?
  3. What are the experiences of those who are working while they are sick or are caring for sick family members?
  4. How does the workplace affect the health of different types of workers, including shift workers, workers in dangerous jobs, disabled workers, and workers in low-paying jobs?
  5. How do jobs impact workers’ levels of stress?
  6. How do adults rate their workplace in terms of supporting their health?
  7. How do paid vacation benefits in the U.S. compare to Europe?

The report continues: “The findings of this survey demonstrate that a significant portion of working adults say that their current job impacts their health. In particular, a considerable share of working adults believe their current job affects their overall health, family life, social life, stress level, weight, eating habits, and sleeping habits. Almost half of all working adults give their workplace only fair or poor ratings in its efforts to reduce their stress. In particular, a majority of workers in low-paying jobs, dangerous jobs, disabled workers, workers in medical and restaurant jobs, and people who work 50 or more hours per week in their main job say their job has a bad impact on their stress level.”

Said Robert Wood Johnson President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey: ““Every year, U.S. businesses lose more than $225 billion because of sick and absent workers. But I believe that business drives culture change and with them on board we can succeed in building a Culture of Health in America. It’s not a hard connection to make. In many companies as much as 50 percent of profits are eaten up by health care costs.”

And the report offers an endorsement of the role workplace wellness can play: “Overall, a majority of working adults say their workplace provides a healthy work environment, most say their workplace is supportive of them taking steps to improve their personal health, and about half say their workplace offers formal wellness or health improvement programs to help keep themselves healthy.”