October 11, 2016

By the Numbers: The Conflict Between Work and Health

In today’s workplace culture, employees rarely leave their desks to have lunch, let alone to visit the doctor for important check-ups. In an effort to learn more about this pervasive cultural norm, Zocdoc recently partnered with Kelton Global to conduct a survey of more than 2,000 American workers about their attitudes and behaviors related to work and health.

The survey revealed a dangerous conflict between work and health, including workplace pressures and sentiments that create obstacles to visiting the doctor for preventive care visits. The key findings of the survey are outlined below.

As a result of what we learned, today Zocdoc is introducing Unsick Day – a new type of day off work that companies give to employees to take care of those important but often-neglected annual physicals, skin screenings and dental cleanings. Learn more at www.unsickday.com.

Survey Highlights:
In today’s culture, there is a persistent conflict between work and health.

● 85% of American workers think their health is important to their employer, yet, nearly one in five (19%) American workers say their employer does not discuss the specifics of their health care benefits at all.
● Two in five (40%) American workers say they haven’t missed work even once in the past 12 months for a preventive care appointment.
● Furthermore, close to nine in ten (86%) employed Americans admit they would cancel or reschedule a booked preventive care appointment due to workplace pressures.
● Plus, sick time tends to take priority: Two out of three (66%) American workers said they’re more likely to miss work for a doctor’s appointment when they are sick, as opposed to for a routine preventive check-up.

Workplace pressures and concerns lead employees to de-prioritize their own care.

● Half (50%) of American workers say their employer or company culture has made them feel like they shouldn’t go to preventive care appointments during work hours.
● In fact, 28% of workers say they feel guilty for missing work and nearly a quarter (24%) say worrying about being judged would prevent them from going to an appointment during work hours.
● In addition, half (50%) of American workers think missing work for preventive care appointments may hurt their chances at getting promoted.
● In total, three in five (60%) American workers feel uncomfortable leaving work for preventive care appointments.

American workers aren’t seeing company leadership take a stand on preventive care either.

● Nearly half (46%) of American workers say that their manager has made them feel like they shouldn’t take time off work to go to preventive care appointments.
● “More than two in five (42%) American workers never see their CEO leaving work to go to preventive care appointments, and 29% never notice their manager leave for routine check-ups”.
● Even in the healthcare industry, one in three (33%) workers never see their manager leave work for preventive care appointments.
● Furthermore, only 30% of managers say they proactively encourage the employees they manage to take time off work for preventive care appointments.

When it comes to health, colleagues are more supportive than employees think; and employees are looking for encouragement.

● More than one in three (38%) American workers think their colleagues would feel negatively — inconvenienced, annoyed and even stressed — if they were to take a day off work for a preventive care appointment.
● But in fact, 62% say they would be supportive or happy if their co-workers took a day off for preventive care.
● Employees would also be more likely to go to preventive care appointments if they were encouraged to do so by their employer, manager or co-workers (51%), or if their company gave them time off specifically for these types of appointments (46%).

Everybody benefits when companies empower workers to get preventive care.

● Only one in four (25%) American workers say they have utilized all of the preventive health benefits offered by their company, meaning employers are spending millions on benefits that are going to waste.
● In addition, 14% of workers don’t even know which preventive visits their insurance covers.
● However, half of employed Americans would be more likely to work for or stay with an employer who is supportive of their employees scheduling preventive care appointments (50%) or who gives them time off for preventive care appointments (49%).
● Ultimately, nearly nine out of ten (88%) American workers say they feel like better employees when they’re able to take care of themselves.

Millennials, who now make up the largest share of today’s workforce, encounter or perceive more conflicts between work and health than older generations.

● Millennials are 31% more likely than their colleagues ages 35 and up (71% vs. 54%) to feel uncomfortable leaving work for preventive care appointments.
● Nearly three in four (74%) millennial workers say that their employer, company culture and manager have made them feel like they shouldn’t go to preventive care appointments during work hours (compared to 50% of workers 35 and up).
● Nearly seven in ten (69%) millennials think that if they miss work for preventive care appointments that it may hurt their chances at getting promoted (compared to 40% of workers age 35 and up).

When it comes to preventive care, women (and parents) put others and work ahead of themselves.

● Men are 60% more likely than women (40% vs. 25%) to say they always or frequently take time off work for preventive care appointments.
● Nearly half (46%) of women say they haven’t missed work even once in the past 12 months for a preventive care appointment, compared to 34% of men.
● Nearly two in five (38%) women say being too busy at work would prevent them from going to preventive care appointments during work hours (vs. 31% of men).
● 30% of women say that feeling guilty about missing work would prevent them from going to preventive care appointments during work hours.
● Half of working parents (50%) always or frequently take time off work to take their child to preventive care appointments, but only 32% say the same about taking time off of work for their own routine check-ups.
● Mothers are more likely than fathers to leave work for taking a child to the doctor than for their own preventive care appointment (54% vs. 47%).

Preventive care often falls to the bottom of the to-do list.

● Nearly one in five (19%) American workers would be more likely to leave work to vote than for a preventive care appointment.
● Nearly one in five (18%) American workers would also be more likely to leave work to take their pet to the vet than for a preventive care appointment for themselves.

Primary care visits are most popular, but there are a variety of other doctors American workers would visit if they got a new type of day off.

● Nearly half (47%) of American workers would visit a primary care physician if their company gave them an extra day off for preventive care appointments, a doctor they say they wouldn’t otherwise take time off to see. But they would also visit their:

○ Dentist (41%);
○ OB-GYN (20%);
○ Dermatologist (18%);
○ Ophthalmologist (17%);
○ Dietitian/Nutritionist (14%);
○ Allergist (13%);
○ Psychiatrist/Psychologist (11%).

Survey Methodology
The Zocdoc Unsick Day Survey was conducted August 10-17, 2016 by Kelton Global among 2,009 employed Americans 18 and over, using an e-mail invitation and an online survey. The margin of error for the entire sample is +/- 2.2 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level; the margin of error for any subgroups will be slightly higher.