Supporting Your Employees Through Long Term Or Chronic Illness: What You Can Do

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Everyone gets sick from time to time and may need time off work to recover. Although the leading reasons for sick leave, like migraines and back pain, may not be life-threatening—they can affect an employee’s health long-term.

These conditions can result in significant absenteeism at work, decreased engagement, and productivity while a worker is in the workplace.

Although you can’t resolve your employees’ health issues entirely, you can help them out by creating an environment supporting them. Below are six ways to do just that.

Provide Well-being Programs

It can be challenging for employees to succeed at work if they’re dealing with a long-term illness, but they can push through with the right support. You can start by listening to their concerns and support a healthy work-life balance by providing wellbeing programs. These include on-site fitness centers, free lunch and healthy snacks, smoking cessation programs, and transit options.

Give Health and Wellbeing Support

To help your employees manage their health better, consider providing more health and wellbeing support services. For instance, having a company nutritionist can help them pinpoint what foods and drinks can cause or aggravate fibromyalgia flare-ups, a common work-related condition. Having a chiropractor can also help them deal with other musculoskeletal conditions such as carpal tunnel and back pain. These additional support services ensure better health management, happier employees, and increased productivity.

Offer Flexible Work Options

Implementing flexible work options can benefit employees with chronic medical conditions and your business. Standard arrangements include additional breaks to eat and take medication, extra rest time, reduced working hours, allowing remote work, offering a change in roles. If the reasons for being absent are valid, offer employees the chance to offset or make up for the lost time.

This will ensure that work is always covered and that no projects slip through the cracks.

Foster a Positive Culture

Although employee performance is crucial if you want your employees to provide quality work output continually, it’s best to focus on their wellbeing instead of micromanaging them. That’s because though presenteeism may look beneficial, it can do more harm than good. If an employee is in pain or distracted, they likely can’t do their jobs properly. So, instead of pushing them to work, encourage them to take some time off until they’re feeling better.

To begin fostering a positive culture at work, discuss with your managers the importance of having sick individuals get some time off from work.

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Allow Remote Working at Home

There are some medical conditions where the employee should work from their homes’ comfort rather than the office. For instance, if an employee suffers from a urinary tract infection (UTI), this causes them to have the urge to urinate more often, so, understandably, an employee wouldn’t want to go to the office. If you let them work at home, this would prevent them from taking time off sick until the infection subsides. Some companies have implemented a work scheme where the employee works one day at home and the rest of the days at the office or worksite.

Provide Specialized Equipment

More than 30 million working days are lost because of musculoskeletal conditions annually, including back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome. Although you can’t ‘cure’ these conditions, offering specialist equipment in the workspace can ease some symptoms. For instance, to deal with back pain, you can help employees by providing specialized equipment such as lumbar support pillows and foot supports.   By supporting staff with long-term or chronic medical conditions, employers can help workers maintain a high quality of life at work, growing alongside the company—and of any of the ways mentioned can guide you to make your employees healthier, happier, and productive.

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