Chronic illnesses are a reality for millions of Americans, including American workers. In fact, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about half of all adults in the United States have at least one chronic illness. That’s a lot of people.
While it’s true that companies can’t do everything for employees with chronic illnesses, they can do some things to support their workers. This article explores a few of those things. So if you’re an employer who wants to do right by your employees with chronic illnesses, read on!
Make sure your health insurance plan covers employees with chronic illnesses
This one is a no-brainer, but it’s still worth mentioning. Employees with chronic illnesses need access to quality health care like everyone else. Ensure your company’s health insurance plan provides good coverage for employees with chronic diseases—otherwise, they may not be able to afford the care they need to stay healthy and productive.
Chronic illnesses can be costly, and many employers are unprepared for the financial burden this can put on their workers. One way companies can help is by providing financial assistance to employees who need help paying for prescriptions, treatments, or other medical expenses related to their chronic illnesses. This could be in the form of reimbursements, discounts, or even contributions to a health savings account.
Insurance coverage is also critical for older employees with illnesses such as Sarcopenia and Osteoporosis. These often require costly procedures such as regular diagnostic imaging to monitor progress and ensure the best treatments are used.
Make reasonable accommodations for affected employees
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from discriminating against people with disabilities, including those with chronic illnesses. This means that companies must make reasonable accommodations to enable their workers with chronic illnesses to do their jobs. Some examples of accommodations may include:
- Allowing flexible work hours
- Offering telecommuting options
- Making physical modifications to the workspace, such as installing a wheelchair ramp
- Providing additional breaks and rest periods during the day
- Offering ergonomic equipment or other assistive devices
- Scheduling regular medical appointments during working hours
By offering these accommodations, companies can show their employees with chronic illnesses that they value them and recognize the extra effort it takes for them to do their jobs.
Promote a culture of openness and understanding around chronic illnesses
Employees with chronic illnesses often feel they need to hide their conditions out of fear of being judged or discriminated against. To create an open and supportive environment for these individuals, employers should promote transparency and acceptance in their workplace. This could include offering education on chronic illnesses, providing access to mental health resources, or creating a safe space for employees to talk openly about their struggles.
When employers take steps to create a culture of openness and understanding around chronic illnesses, it can make a considerable difference in how employees with chronic conditions are viewed and treated. Creating an open dialogue about chronic illnesses can help reduce stigmas, educate coworkers on how to best support those affected, and open lines of communication between employees and their supervisors.
Provide support for their mental health
Chronic illnesses can take an emotional toll on those affected; employers need to recognize this. One way they can do this is by offering mental health resources and support. This could include providing access to counseling services, stress management techniques, or online support groups. Improving an employee’s mental health has been linked to better overall health, increased productivity, and improved job satisfaction.
By supporting the mental health of their employees with chronic illnesses, employers can help ensure that their workers have the necessary tools to cope with the physical, emotional, and psychological effects of these conditions.
It can also be helpful for managers to have regular check-ins with employees with chronic illnesses to see how they are doing emotionally and if there’s anything the company can do to provide additional help or resources. By showing that you care about your employees’ mental health, you can make a huge difference in their well-being—and, ultimately, your business as a whole.
To Wrap It Up
Supporting employees with chronic illnesses is integral to creating a thriving, healthy workplace. Employers should actively provide reasonable accommodations, promote understanding and acceptance around chronic illness, and offer support for mental health to create an environment where everyone can thrive.
Taking these measures will benefit those affected by chronic conditions and result in a healthier and more productive workforce overall. By being proactive in supporting employees with chronic illnesses, employers can ensure that their workers are valued and supported throughout their employment.