Working through injuries or illnesses can be difficult and discouraging for employees. Having a chronic condition can make things worse. A chronic illness is a condition that lasts at least a year and requires consistent medical treatment. Chronic conditions can cause limitations in life and work that are hard to work around and 45% of Americans suffer from at least one chronic illness. Some examples of chronic illnesses are cancer, diabetes, depression, anxiety, arthritis, and many more. Making your workplace accommodating to those with chronic illnesses is important for employee motivation, productivity, safety, and retention. Here are some things you can do to accommodate chronic illness:
Encourage Employee Health
When an employee has a chronic illness, they may be nervous to take time to heal. Employees may think that if they create a work-life boundary to protect their health that they will be at a disadvantage at work or that their career will fall behind. In reality, many workers with chronic illnesses can have a successful career. You should encourage employees to take sick days when they need it and to incorporate work-life balance into their lives. Whether or not an employee has a chronic illness, this focus on employee help will prevent injuries, increase motivation, and help employees feel better about taking care of themselves.
Respect a Diagnosis
While some of your employees won’t give you a formal diagnosis or may not tell you about their condition altogether, you may have an employee share a diagnosis with you. In this case, you need to be considerate of the employee and their medical information. Don’t share the employee’s medical information with anyone else, even if you need to make accommodations because of their condition.
Certain laws may come into play when dealing with chronic illnesses. The most well-known of these is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA requires employers with more than 15 employees to provide reasonable accommodations to employees in the case of certain conditions. Beyond that, there may be local sick leave or disability laws that you must adhere to. Make sure you understand what laws to be aware of when discussing chronic illness with employees.
Chronic conditions can be a challenge in the workplace. Follow this advice to make chronic illnesses easier for your employees and your company to work through.