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With more than one-third of U.S. adults being obese, many employers concentrate on weight management as a primary component of employee wellness programs. However, such programs often fail to recognize the physical and psychosocial aspects of work that might impact body weight, such as sedentary work, shift work, long shifts, job stress, and other exposures. Focusing on these factors is critical for creating healthier work environments and lifestyles.
This session aims to explain how working conditions influence the health behaviors that contribute to obesity/overweight and how to create healthier work environments to support health.
Given the changes in workload trends in the U.S., this presentation demonstrates the links between stressful working conditions, health behaviors, and health outcomes of the present workforce. An overview of the various types of job stressors followed by a job characteristic model demonstrates the ways in which the combination of these stressors can lead to poor health among workers. Examples of interventions aimed at organizational and individual change provide participants with a greater understanding of methods for addressing working conditions to reduce job stress.
When American workers become ill, their employers bear much of the cost. Chronic illness among employees forces employers to pay higher insurance premiums, and hurts business by leading to diminished productivity and high turnover. In fact, according to data from the Kaiser/HRET survey of employee benefits, if employers were not responsible for their employees’ medical costs, corporate profits would double.
Recognizing the importance of employee health, companies frequently offer worksite health promotion programs. However, such programs focus solely on changing individual behavior. We believe that this represents an incomplete approach, because health is shaped not only by personal choices, but also by the environment in which we live and work. The working environment – particularly work that is stressful, sedentary or takes place at the night – is known to contribute to obesity, cardiovascular disease, depression, and other chronic illnesses. For this reason, any attempt to improve the long-term health of workers must address not only their lifestyle choices, but also the work organization that contributes to their disease.
This session presents employers with a path to promoting and protecting their employees’ health holistically, by addressing both personal choice and work organization – an integrated approach known as Total Worker Health™. The rationale behind Total Worker Health™ will be discussed and examples provided. Finally, a tool will be suggested for use when building programs on the basis of Total Worker Health™.
Workers are staying on the job longer. While aging is associated with physical and cognitive declines, older workers are a diverse group whose health and safety needs may vary. Interventions exist, but there is no "one size fits all" approach. Participatory interventions that combine health protection with health promotion and span the organization can address the health and safety needs of all workers, including older workers.