Work and health are very much intertwined, and it isn’t just a case of bosses wanting a fully fit workforce to maximise production or hit targets. Your work can lead to health problems or even exacerbate existing ones. This puts the onus on you to take care of your own health, and many employers themselves are now taking steps to ensure their staff remain healthy.
One of the biggest causes of ill health in the workplace is stress. Stress can affect all employees. If you are a leading member of your team, you will probably be under unrelenting pressure to deliver, which in turn is stressful. Even non high-fliers are not free of such pressure. Apart from actually holding on to your job in these days of economic turbulence, you may also be working extra hours. Not only does your working environment become stressful, but with overtime your work/life balance is thrown out of kilter.
If you are particularly tired after the day’s work, you may no longer have the will to exercise, which can be very detrimental to your health. You might also not be taking the time to eat healthy meals, which can lead to obesity and diabetes
A lot of the research concerning the health of people at work has been related to those employed in an office environment, where they spend a lot of the day sitting. But what about workers who spend the bulk of the day standing, such as those working on the factory floor, on building sites, on farms and in restaurants? Many of the problems these people suffer are physical, such as back strain and pressure on joints. Depending on the nature of these jobs, they can also be mentally stressful.
The sad fact is that you may not even realise that your work is affecting your health. Such could be the stress of the working environment that it might even be distracting you from existing health issues. Stress can also lead to other health problems, one of the most extreme being heart attack, so if there is even a hint of you not feeling well, take time out to get it checked.
Workplace stress can most certainly affect your personal life. Many seek refuge in the likes of alcohol and drugs, which in turn can lead to addiction and even worse health problems. Thoughtful employers do take steps to recognise these symptoms, and go as far as organising testing to recognise substance abuse. This is done through an oral fluid lab test, where samples are taken from employees and tested by drug and alcohol testing specialists. For employees testing positive, any action taken is up to the employer, but it will at least enable the affected employee to receive appropriate counselling.
There is no doubt that the workplace can adversely affect your health, and a lot of it is down to stress, which can spark serious health issues. Hopefully, you have an employer who is willing to provide a less stressful, healthier work environment. In the meantime, you have an obligation to yourself to be aware of any stress-related issues, both at work and home.