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Worker Illness Costs and the Importance of Prevention

It’s the new year! The end of one year and beginning of another can be the most liberating moment as we decide how our lives should be crafted in the year ahead. There is a sense of renewal and energy that comes from knowing time has moved forward and yet, we are given the gift of trying again.

Resolutions are now in full motion as we strive to make yet another promise for healthier lives, less stressful days, and attempts to achieve positive mindfulness in 2018. Though most resolutions are over before they begin, many of us truly want to improve our well-being and health each year.

But we’re all human! The year moves forward and most of us find ourselves discouraged by our sudden fall from grace. Unfortunately, our employers too will feel the result. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the productivity lost from employees, due to illness and injury, costs employers approximately $225.8 billion annually in the US—equivalent to $1,685 per employee.

The CDC is trying to combat how industries and employers look at productivity by encouraging businesses to invest in the wellness and health of their employees. Through the Business Pulse: Healthy Workforce initiative, the CDC plays a critical role in helping businesses by providing guidance to encourage safer, healthier workplaces so that employers may gain more productive, satisfied employees, reductions in absenteeism, lower levels of healthcare spending, and a decrease in rates of illness and work-related injuries. They’re leading the wave to inspire employers to make positive changes for us employees.

We often focus on how we feel and when we’re back up to speed at work. Most employees and employers too forget to look at the big picture and the impact our health really has on the whole of our employers and company. When employees are out sick, projects fall behind schedule. Fellow co-workers are impacted by our absence, increasing the amount of stress they might feel on the job, while trying to make up for the loss in productivity.

Other times, especially during the height of flu season, we feel compelled to power-through and show up to work, even if we’d rather be home in bed with a warm cup of soup! And let’s not forget, showing up to work sick is how our colleagues often wind up ill. And thus, a vicious circle of colds plagues our office through the season.

Of course, the importance of keeping up with our health, and the importance of prevention isn’t just limited to the flu or common cold. Exercise, poor diet and food choices, chronic diseases, and stress, fatigue and depression also affect revenue. In fact, according to the National Institute of Health, chronic pain accounts for $11.6-$12.7 billion in lost productivity annually.

Though we find it our duty to commit each year to make improvements to our heath and wellness, employers too should support our personal improvements for a safe and healthy year and promote corporate wellness. Doing so boosts our productivity and the profitability among employers of all sizes.

Encouraging employers to make improvements to better its staff becomes a win-win situation for all. It’s important for businesses to support employees and encourage individuals to take action. A healthy lifestyle doesn’t just come from controlling a health-related issue, but also through sickness prevention, proper exercise and eating well.

Staying healthy and proper physical fitness is what keeps us at our best, and ensures when injury or illness does occur, our bodies are equipped to recover quickly. In turn, it keeps us happy and employers happy ensuring we all show up to work our best selves, and ready to focus!


CDC Foundation - “Worker Illness and Injury Costs U.S. Employers $225.8 Billion Annually,” Jan. 28, 2015).

#employeewellness #wellness #health #productivity #prevention