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Are you in excellent health? How employees many are?

Management is a constant refinement process, and worker health is a major topic of concern today -- health is going down, and costs are going up. But there are options and solutions.

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If you have a job, you probably feel pretty lucky... and happy to at least be employed. What they aren't feeling, however, is healthy.

The percentage of workers who say they're in excellent health has dropped from 34 percent in 2002 to 28 percent in 2008, according to a report recently released by the Families and Work Institute (FWI), a nonprofit research company.

How healthy are we?

  • 41% say they feel stressed sometimes, often, or very often
  • 33% workers has at least one symptom of clinical depression
  • 20% have trouble falling asleep often or very often
  • 20% are taking blood-pressure-lowering medication
  • 14% are being treated for high cholesterol

So the person sitting next to you is probably not feeling very healthy, and you might not be, either.

What can we do about our health?

Your workplace makes a difference. 38% of workers at certain jobs -- called "effective" workplaces in the report -- were much more likely to say they were in excellent health.

Conversely, only 19% of employees in workplaces with a low effectiveness rating reported being in excellent health.

Six factors make a difference. Workers may feel healthier if

  • They have "learning opportunities and challenge
  • A good fit between work and personal life
  • Autonomy
  • Having a supervisor who supports job success
  • Economic security -- no surprise in this economy
  • A work climate of respect and trust

Not all employers can afford insurance for their employees these days, but they can all take a bit of time, and offer support for better working conditions that affect the overall health of their employees...and themselves!

"It's important to know that having an effective workplace doesn't [have to] cost employers any money," says Galinsky. "It's as simple as how people treat each other."

A couple solutions

Managers can talk calmly and respectfully to workers and implement greater flexibility in hours to help them manage their personal lives.
  • Allow employees to work earlier or later
  • Survey employees and listen to their suggestions, which can bolster employees' feelings of control
  • Focus on one factor of an effective workplace at a time instead of trying to change everything at once

Employee Options

Employees can take matters into their own hands too. Half of the workers in the survey didn't exercise regularly, and 25 percent smoked. In 2002, 21 percent were obese, but by 2008, that number had jumped to 26 percent. So taking charge of your health outside of the workplace is a good place to start.

Take a Workplace Effectiveness Quiz

Families and Work Institute (FWI) provides an online quiz to help you find the metrics for a better, more effective workplace at

Read more about healthy workplaces at

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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