The Workplace and Health

Jul 11, 2016
  • Description

Where people live and work greatly influences their health. To examine workers' perceptions of health related to the workplace and inform the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's work in creating a Culture of Health in America, the Foundation—with National Public Radio and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health—conducted a poll of working adults in 2016.

Key Findings

Researchers found:

  • Their job affects their overall health for more than four in 10 working adults (28% good impact; 16% bad impact), their stress level (16% good; 43% bad), and family life (32% good; 17% bad).
  • Workers in low-paying jobs face dangerous work situations (45%) compared to those in high-paying jobs (33%), and find work has a bad impact on stress (51%) compared to those in average and high-paying jobs (41%).
  • One in five workers (19%) are "workaholics," working 50 or more hours a week in their main job. They do so because they say it is important to their career (56%); and that their workload makes it hard to take a vacation (49%).
  • Black working adults give their workplace fair or poor ratings (37%) on providing a healthy work environment, compared to Hispanic (26%) and white workers (21%).
  • Women are more likely while working to have cared for a family member who was seriously ill, injured, or disabled (33%), compared to men (24%); blacks more likely (41%) to have done so than whites (28%) or Hispanics (20%).
  • A majority of workers (55%) go to work when sick; including medical workers (60%) and restaurant workers (50%) who go to work when they have a cold or flu.
  • For most workers, the workplace provides a healthy work environment (75%) and offers formal wellness or health improvement programs (51%).