‘Toxic Workplaces’ Take Toll on Worker Health


By Cara Murez

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Oct. 21, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Just about anyone who has dealt with a toxic work environment can tell you about the toll it takes on your physical and mental health.

Now the US government is backing up that perception with some evidence.

US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy released a report Thursday linking low wages, discrimination, harassment, overwork and long commutes to physical health conditions, including cancer and heart diseases. Depression and anxiety can also result from these toxic workplaces.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the nature of work and the relationship many workers have with their jobs. The link between our work and our health has become even more apparent,” Murthy said in the report.

He cited five components of a healthy workplace, which are protection from harm, connection and community, work-life harmony, importance at work, and opportunity for growth.

Developing a workplace culture to emphasize these principles can help promote inclusion, fair pay and opportunities for employees to advance, the Surgeon General’s office said.

Instilling those values ​​”will require organizations to reconsider how they protect workers from harm, foster a sense of connection among workers, show them they matter, make room for their lives outside of work, and support their long-term professional growth,” Murty said. . “This may not be easy. But it will be worth it, because the benefits will accrue for both workers and organizations. A healthy workforce is the foundation for thriving organizations and a healthy community.”

The report comes at a time when the pandemic and changes to working from home have helped workers find work-life balance.

“These [work and home] Role conflicts can magnify psychological stress, increase the risk of health behaviors such as smoking, unhealthy dietary habits, alcohol and substance use, and medication overuse, and cause disruptions in relationships both at work and at home. home,” the report found.

“When people feel anxious or depressed, the quality, pace and performance of their work tend to decline,” the report said.

Gabriella Kellerman, chief product officer for corporate coaching platform BetterUp, agreed with the theory that employee wellness equals good business, CBS News reported.

“Today, given the nature of work, there is an enormous amount of uncertainty from business and the external environment that is inherently challenging to our mental well-being and function, and business has a role to play in supporting that.” their employees — for moral reasons, but also because it’s good for the bottom line of their business,” Kellerman said.

“The fact that this is actually recommended by the Surgeon General is extremely important as a statement,” he added. “They’re giving employers concrete recommendations on what matters most to support employee wellness. Getting this granular and prescriptive is a new level of engagement and guidance, that’s groundbreaking.”

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