I came across a good article in HC Hotline written by Victoria Bruce, which discusses chronic diseases, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Crohn’s Disease, which can greatly impact the workplace but which the workplace culture can ease and ameliorate.  This, from an Australian perspective.

As she notes, “The Australian Institute of Health and Wellness says chronic diseases are the leading cause of illness disability and death in Australia, accounting for 90 % of all deaths in 2011.”

She interviewed HR Business Partner at Employment Innovations Alexia Charalambous, who talked about “best practice strategies” — and said that “many businesses have realized the benefits of health promotion and offer  and employee assistance programs to their employees, in a bid to curb the cost of rising health care. … ideally, the office should be a place protecting the safety and well-being of employees while providing them with opportunities for better long-term health.”

Some positive initiatives might be “having a broader wellness policy in place, supportive team leaders who are educated on holistic approaches to managing chronic disease, and appointing a ‘workplace champion’ who staff can go to for additional support.”

Charalambous noted that “It’s important to work out what’s best for the organization and make an assessment of what’s going on with your staff. … a positive company culture is very important to ensuring these initiatives are successful.”

Bruce also interviewed Lucienne Gleeson, an Associate with PCC Lawyers, who provided a helpful list of ways in which employers can implement supportive initiatives.

All in all a great article for our Aussie readers, and certainly a useful one for HR managers and employers worldwide who want to expand their understanding of chronic diseases, wellness programs, and best workplace practices.