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How Employers Can Address Chronic Disease in the Workplace

February 21, 2024 from Canadian HRReporter

The prevalence of chronic diseases presents a substantial obstacle to the labour force, as evidenced by the fact that around 50% of the Canadian population is affected by at least one major chronic ailment. This number has been emphasized by GreenShield, who have referenced statistics from Statistics Canada (StatCan). The frequency of this phenomenon increases as individuals grow older, emphasizing the need for preventative interventions.


One positive aspect is that a significant proportion, specifically 80%, of these chronic diseases can be mitigated by implementing healthy lifestyle modifications. Nevertheless, the insufficiency of sufficient assistance hinders numerous Canadians from undertaking this profound endeavour, as highlighted by Greenshield in reference to prior research.


The Executive Vice President at GreenShield Health, Joe Blomeley, acknowledges the shared inadequacy in placing emphasis on preventive care within workplace health initiatives stating that “as a group of employers, we haven’t done a particularly good job around preventative care.” The current healthcare system, which is predominantly focused on acute care, is failing to effectively address the underlying causes of chronic diseases. The consequences have a significant impact on the workplace, as the burden of chronic diseases can be seen through increased rates of absenteeism and reduced productivity. Managing chronic diseases requires a substantial amount of time and focus, which presents difficulties for both personnel who are impacted and their teams.


The implementation of comprehensive workplace programs specifically designed to manage chronic illnesses is crucial for employers to respond to the call to action. Blomeley highlights the efficacy of structured programs in addressing the health requirements of employees, drawing comparisons to mental health initiatives. The establishment of these initiatives requires a methodical approach, firmly rooted in a strong business rationale. In order to provide real advantages for both employees and the firm, employers are required to assess the return on investment and health outcomes.


The role of leadership is crucial in cultivating a culture characterized by transparency and assistance. By sharing personal anecdotes and advocating for talks around chronic illnesses, the negative perception surrounding these conditions decreases, encouraging employees to seek help without apprehension of criticism.


The prioritization of chronic disease prevention and management is not only a concern for the well-being of employees, but rather a strategic necessity for firms wanting to prosper in a progressively competitive environment. Employers may enable their workers to enjoy healthier and more satisfying lives by investing in comprehensive workplace programs and cultivating a supportive atmosphere.




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