Report presents findings by wage level and gender and finds effective workplaces contribute to positive health;
NEW YORK, Sept. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In the midst of the most vigorous national health care debate in 15 years, and at a time of heightened economic insecurity, new data on employers show that the health of employed American workers is trending downward in a number of important areas. The State of Health in the American Workforce, a report released today by the Families and Work Institute (FWI), finds that only 28% of employees today report that their overall health is "excellent," down from 34% just six years ago. Perhaps surprisingly, men's overall health has declined more rapidly than women's. The report also sheds light on the relationship between an effective workplace and employee health, underlining the significant role that employers play beyond providing health insurance and wellness programs.
Among its many findings, the report reveals:
Furthermore, the report finds that nearly half of U.S. employees (49%) have not engaged in regular physical exercise in the last 30 days, including 22% not engaging in any rigorous physical exercise. And despite a push to stop smoking at the workplace, one in four smokes.
In terms of health care coverage, 24% of low-wage/low-income employees have no insurance from their employers or any other source, compared with only 5% of middle- and high-income employees. Low-wage/low-income employees are also much less likely to receive at least five paid sick days -- only 46% do compared with 66% of middle- and high-wage and -income employees.
As to whether having an effective workplace makes a difference for employee health and well-being, the FWI data suggest that the answer is "yes" -- and wage level and gender also influence in what way. For example, FWI finds that 38% of employees in workplaces that fall into the "high overall effectiveness" category (based on six measurable criteria that include economic security, autonomy, work-life fit) report "excellent overall health." By contrast, only 19% of employees in workplaces that fall into the "low overall effectiveness" category report "excellent overall health."
"Few would disagree that the health care path we are on represents an untenable route to increasing costs and diminishing returns," said Ellen Galinsky, co-founder and president of FWI. "This new report is replete with evidence that several key measures of employee health are declining, and that employer policies fostering employee engagement and satisfaction are also associated with better employee health. The message is clear that beyond any reform measures on the table in Washington, it is urgent for employers and employees to pay attention to how they can promote better health, which ultimately will save money."
The new report is based on data from FWI's 2008 National Study of the Changing Workforce (NSCW), the only study of its kind to provide 30+ year comparisons (from 1977 to 2008) of life on and off the job.(1) The new State of Health in the American Workforce report focuses on 2002 and 2008 data.
Among the other noteworthy findings of the new FWI report:
Building upon other studies stemming from the 2008 NSCW data, FWI's State of Health in the American Workforce report also explores various components of effective workplaces and what impact they have on employee health. Among the interesting findings: being treated with respect by managers and supervisors has a stronger effect on the mental health of low-wage/low-income employees than middle- or high-wage and -income employees, and men are more positively affected by having economic security in their jobs and a good fit between their work and personal or family lives, while women are more positively affected by being challenged in their jobs and by having autonomy.
"In the daily grind of our busy lives, it's easy to forget the price we eventually pay when we fall short on important things like sleep, diet or exercise," said FWI Senior Research Associate and report co-author, Kerstin Aumann. "This report demonstrates how our workplaces -- where we often spend most of our waking hours -- can help or hinder our personal well-being and health. Our findings serve as a wake-up calls for employers and employees alike to take a closer look at how their organizations affect people's health and well-being"
The new FWI study is fully downloadable at www.familiesandwork.org, where you can also take a simple quiz to evaluate how well your work and life fit together.
ABOUT FAMILIES AND WORK INSTITUTE
Families and Work Institute (FWI) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that studies the changing workforce, family and community. As a preeminent think-tank, FWI is known for being ahead of the curve, identifying emerging issues, and then conducting rigorous research that often challenges common wisdom and provides insight and knowledge. As an action tank, FWI conducts numerous studies that put its research into action and then evaluates the results. Its purpose is to create research to live by. For more information, visit www.familiesandwork.org.
(1) The NSCW surveys representative samples of the U.S. workforce every five years. Sample sizes average about 3,500, including both wage and salaried employees and self-employed workers, though this report focuses on wage and salaried employees with a sample size of approximately 2800. The first NSCW was conducted by FWI in 1992 and it has included questions originally part of the 1977 Quality of Employment Survey conducted by the Department of Labor.
|SOURCE Families and Work Institute|
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