- U.S. workers report declining health as workplace burnout rate remains high at 61%
- Majority of workers say their health/wellness is impacting their productivity; many feel less engaged at work
New research from The Hartford, a leading provider of group disability insurance and absence management, found that 43% of U.S. workers have delayed routine health care appointments since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The delay in care comes as many also report declines in their mental health (42%), social well-being (41%), financial security (32%) and physical health (29%).
The Hartford, which has been tracking workplace burnout levels among U.S. workers throughout the pandemic, found that the burnout rate has remained high at 61% in January – the same level reported in February and July of 2021. This burnout rate and declining health is manifesting in the way many U.S. workers feel about their jobs. Most respondents (63%) said their overall health/wellness impacts their productivity at work. Thirty percent noted they’re less engaged with their work and 25% said they have trouble concentrating or focusing.
“It is difficult to overcome the fear and fatigue we’re all experiencing amid the COVID-19 pandemic; however, it is important that people get back to prioritizing routine health visits and screenings to stay physically and mentally healthy,” said The Hartford’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Adam Seidner. “Many health conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, may not be noticeable or detected without routine screenings. These types of conditions, when they continue to develop undetected, can lead to more serious health problems.”
According to the January 2022 Future of Benefits Pulse Survey, the top five reasons workers are putting off appointments include:
- Fear of contracting COVID-19 (47%);
- Difficulty getting an appointment (29%);
- The need to cancel appointments due to COVID-19 restrictions/requirements (25%);
- Fear of other illnesses (24%); and
- Not a current priority (21%)
“Employers play a key role in helping to remove some of the barriers to health care, which is important in helping people live active and productive lives,” Seidner said. “I encourage employers to continue to offer the flexibility needed to ensure their employees can take key steps to improve their mental and physical health – and avoid the dangers of delayed care.”
According to an analysis of The Hartford’s 2021 short-term disability claims data, the top five injuries and illnesses are1:
- Musculoskeletal injuries, such as neck or back pain
- Digestive disorders, such as hernias or appendicitis
- Mental health conditions
- Rheumatologic disorders, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
Seidner notes that these types of illnesses and injuries can be treated before becoming a disabling condition that prevents people from working or can be managed well following a disability claim by keeping up with routine care.
To help get back on track with appointments, Seidner recommends U.S. workers:
- Talk to their doctor’s offices about the precautions they are taking in the office to keep patients safe;
- Stay current on prescription medications and continue to follow the medical guidance related to an existing condition;
- Consider a telehealth visit, if available;
- Ask to be placed on a call-back list to be made aware of openings due to cancellations if appointments aren’t readily available; and
- Take advantage of the online health portals available to communicate directly with your doctor.
To better engage with workers and promote their overall wellness, Seidner recommends employers:
- Offer benefits and resources that address the overall well-being of their workforce – encompassing physical health, mental health, as well as financial resilience;
- Communicate more often to employees to remind them of the benefits and services that are available;
- Lead by example by making your own appointments a priority; and
- Offer the flexibility employees need to make their appointments a priority.
A national omnibus online survey was conducted in the U.S. among approximately 2,000 adults aged 18+, including 1001 full-time and part-time employed respondents. The research was conducted Jan. 5-7, 2022. The margin of error is +/- 3% at a 95% confidence level.
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1 According to an analysis of The Hartford’s 2021 disability claims, excluding pregnancy.