Heart Rhythm Week – Work and Illness


June 5th sees the start of Heart Rhythm Week, a week highlighting the importance of long term health issues in the workplace. Last year alone 137.7 million days were lost due to sickness and injury costing the UK £100 million. (National Office of Statistics 2017)

The most common reason being minor illnesses such as coughs and colds (33.1%) and musculoskeletal problems like neck and back pains (18.6%). Those suffering from heart, circulation and blood pressure problems were noted to be the cause of 1.8% of all sick leave (NoS 2017). On average, heart related sickness sufferers lost a total of 17.2 days off work per person, per year.  (Lancaster University Work Foundation 2016)

So how can companies begin to manage this loss?

The first step is to make sure that employees feel confident in announcing their medical conditions. A comfortable employee who feels comfortable in their health conditions allows for a company to not only be aware of said conditions but to begin to work with the employee to create a suitable plan if the illness sees them having to take time off work which can be a common occurrence for those with long standing illness. A reminder that those who take time off from sickness are not doing so through choice. From there plans can be made that can aid employees to work with their conditions such as working from home or spreading deadlines to minimize stress related onsets.

Research from the British Heart Foundation found that the biggest causes of heart related illness include eating unhealthily (49%), putting on weight (34%), preventing them from exercising as much as they’d like, drinking more alcohol (22%) and smoking more (9%). These are easily managed by the person themselves but what about the 60% of people who found unpaid overtime to be the cause of heart issues and the 55% who find their job stressful as a whole? These two factors are for the business to aim to tackle themselves.

Business can aim to help with stress related heart conditions through aiming to create a more relaxed atmosphere so that employees do not feel that their deadlines are not always on top of them. Workplaces should always aim to cut the stigma to long-term illness and a supportive nature, a help network should be made aware of for those struggling with long term health issues and who to contact with any doubts they may have regarding their health and how it may affect their work.

As an employer how do you deal with sick leave from those with long term illness or even short term too and does this impact your business workings? Or perhaps you’re an employee and wish jobs would be able to support you in with your health? Let us know how and what support would benefit you most.



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