Chronic Illness and Work: How You Can Support Your Employees

Chronic Illness and Work: How You Can Support Your Employees

Whether starting your own small business or continuing to manage your long-standing company, the most important thing to any employer is ensuring that all workers are healthy. When they’re in good physical and psychological condition, not only do you have a safe and functioning work floor that increases productivity, but you’ll hold onto your trained and skilled employees much longer.  

Learning how to cope with chronic illness and work is vital in keeping this effective workforce while nurturing your employees in the best way possible. At Group Enroll, our experienced team helps employers like you find optimal group health insurance coverage for all ailments. Below, we’ll delve into chronic illnesses in Canada and discuss how you can help workers manage them.

Table of Contents

Is Chronic Illness Common in the Workplace?

According to a recent 2021 survey by Benefits Canada Healthcare, a shocking 59% of workers suffer from at least one form of chronic illness. Unfortunately, employers’ popular belief is that only 34% of employees, almost half as many, have physical ailments like high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic pain, or mental illnesses like depression or anxiety. 

In reality, the numbers are much higher. For instance, about 1.6 million Canadians alone have heart disease or suffer the aftermath of a stroke. One-sixth of the population has arthritis, and an average of 20% have a mental or psychological disorder that Health Canada labels as chronic.  

Sometimes, chronic conditions escape the employer’s notice, whether because of an informal HR department that doesn’t check on their workers’ absences or employees that minimize or are oblivious to their ailments. These persistent and sometimes progressive illnesses, unlike the cold or flu, won’t disappear in time but can be treatable with the appropriate measures. 

That’s why employers should step up in healthcare procedures and scour for the appropriate group health insurance. It’ll ensure that all workers maintain their employment status and continue to benefit the company.

What’s the Effect of Chronic Illness on Workers?

Chronic illnesses that remain unchecked cause strain and disaster in the workplace by forcing employees to work harder in spite of their ailments: costing the company profits and employees their wellness.

Displaced Energy

Reduced Abilities

More Time Off With Scheduling Issues

What Causes Chronic Illness?

Many managers wonder how chronic illness and work have become an issue for their employees. While some ailments prove hereditary and most are incurable, taking caution and using preventative methods can often deter some of these illnesses from occurring in the first place.

Risk Behaviours

Lifestyle Elements

How Can My Company Support Our Workers’ Health?

Whatever the cause of chronic illness, your job as the employer is to ensure that your workers have a safe and understanding space where no one judges them or treats them differently. Also, work to create an environment that allows workers with illnesses to continue to work to provide the best possible results. That may include switching their roles after sustaining an injury.  

The first step in doing so includes listening to each employee who comes to you to discuss their limitations and work requirements. Although you don’t have to make immediate changes, discuss available options. If you already have organizational policies, examine how they affect the workforce by regularly checking in on the physical, psychological, and financial standing of employees.  

However, not all workers are physically present at the workplace. Statistics show that more than 77% of the employees who work from home after receiving a diagnosis stay on top of their work, rarely missing their hours, unlike employees with chronic illnesses who struggle to show up to work each day. 

Allowing your workers, especially those with arthritis or chronic pain, to work remotely benefits their schedule and maintains your company’s productivity. Still, that doesn’t mean all chronic illness and work situations should lead to digital clock-ins.  

Other cases may only require figuring out a part-time or alternate schedule so workers can keep doctor’s appointments, take necessary breaks or medication, and eat or drink to stay energized. If necessary, provide the appropriate equipment to make their jobs easier, including adjustable armrests or footrests, cushioned seats, and audio or visual apps.

Going the Extra Mile

Sometimes, providing the basics like breaks and new equipment isn’t all an employer can do to ensure that those suffering from chronic illnesses do their best on the floor. Almost 85% of Canadians feel employers should support employees’ physical health, and nearly 90% believe mental or psychological assistance is necessary from them as well.  

While assistance comes in different forms, the best way to tackle chronic conditions in your company includes determining what major illnesses exist among your team. Also, implement prevention programs teaching risk factors, preventative measures, and ways to alleviate symptoms or lessen danger levels.  

Employee training revolving around diet and fitness and accompanying in-work health screenings will also contribute to keeping your workers safe while on the job.


Your One Stop for the Safety of Hundreds

Finding the appropriate health insurance for yourself alone is overwhelming. What do you do when you need to provide health insurance to your entire staff? Our experienced team at Group Enroll, an insurance brokerage headquartered in Vaughan, ON, will scour thousands of top insurance companies for the best benefits at competitive rates.  

From group dental insurance to group disability insurance, we can reach out to 10 providers simultaneously, finding you what you need. For assistance on chronic illness and work, complete our quote form or email for Group Enroll assistance today!