Are you one of the 60 percent of working Americans who feel uncomfortable leaving work for medical appointments?
Are you lacking the medical care you need because you fear being penalized for taking a day off from work?
Today, digital health platform Zocdoc proposed a solution to workaholic worrywarts by introducing Unsick Day.
It’s a dedicated day off for employees across the United States to go to checkups, annual physicals, screenings, and dental cleanings that are often neglected due to work-related obligations.
“Most of us know that going to the doctor for a checkup is important, but all too often, the pressures and expectations of work take precedence,” Dr. Oliver Kharraz, Zocdoc’s founder, and chief executive officer, said in a press release. “Even at the most progressive companies, many employees worry that they will be judged or penalized if they take time off for a routine checkup. As business leaders, it’s not enough to simply offer healthcare benefits. We have to be more proactive in empowering employees to take care of themselves.”
Clash between work, health
According to a new Zocdoc survey, three out of five U.S. employees feel uncomfortable leaving work for preventative care appointments.
In addition, 9 in 10 workers admit they would cancel or reschedule doctor appointments due to the pressures of their workplace.
While there’s an obvious clash between work and health, Zocdoc hopes to change this adversarial relationship by encouraging employers to create a work environment that allows employees to take charge of their health through preventative care.
“Our mission as a company is to give power to the patient, but there are all of these things that get in the way when it comes to people taking care of themselves, and we found out that there is a really serious conflict between work and health. And if we want people to be empowered to take good care of themselves we need to do more, and companies need to be much more proactive and encourage their employees to put their benefits to good use. So, that’s how Unsick Day was born,” Jessica Aptman, vice president of communications at Zocdoc, told Healthline.
Zocdoc’s survey also found that despite the fact that the majority of adults in the United States receive health insurance coverage from their employers, only 1 in 4 American workers say they have utilized all of their preventative health benefits.
That means that the millions of dollars companies are spending on health benefits are going to waste.
“A lot of people don't feel empowered to go to the doctor by their company culture and their management teams. Sixty percent of American workers feel uncomfortable leaving work and half say their employers or company culture makes them feel this way, so there is definitely this feeling that they might be penalized for missing work, so by implementing Unsick Day employees won’t be penalized because their companies support this,” said Aptman.
Requesting a day
Unsick Day won’t be a specific day of the year but rather a day that the employee requests to take off in order to take care of their medical needs.
According to Aptman, Zocdoc is asking employers to offer at least one Unsick Day a year.
“If companies want to offer more we think that would be great, but we think that most of the preventive services that need to be done can be done in a day,” she said.
Employees can request an Unsick Day through Zocdoc’s Unsick Day website where the Zocdoc team will reach out to the employers to encourage them to provide preventative care days to their employees to reduce the number of unproductive sick days.
“We think every working American should have an Unsick Day. Companies are paying a lot of money for wellness benefits already, millions of dollars that are really being wasted because people aren't utilizing them to the full capacity. So, for employers a healthy workforce leads to a healthy business, and it just makes good sense for them to put the benefits they're already spending lots of money on, to better use,” said Aptman.
The goal is to prevent employees from waiting until they get sick to visit their doctors. The Zocdoc survey reported that two out of three American workers said they’re more likely to miss work for a doctor’s appointment when they are sick than for a routine preventive checkup.
Aptman explained that people coming to work sick cost billions of dollars as they're not performing to their full potential. That affects a company even more when people take a sick day.
“There are lots of downstream costs here that we can avoid in terms of keeping the workforce healthy and, in terms of employees, they're going to be healthier. These checkups can really help catch things early, protect problems before they arrive, form stronger relationships between patients and doctors, all of which lead to really positive benefits,” she added.
The Zocdoc survey also found that people are more likely to stay or join a company that offered a benefit like Unsick Day, in terms of loyalty.
Zocdoc hopes for Unsick Day to be offered to every working American in the near future.
Executives from several companies that participated in Unsick Day told Healthline they like what they see so far.
Jeff Glueck, chief executive officer at FourSquare, said participating in Unsick Day reaffirm his company's commitment to providing a healthy work-life balancing for their employees.
"All too often, people get consumed in the day-to-day grind and do not set time aside to take care of themselves," said Glueck.
Deena Gianoncelli, the chief people officer at Oscar Insurance, agrees.
"We are always exploring ways to encourage wellness through preventative services," she said.
"Everyone needs some looking after sometimes," added Eric Kinariwala, chief executive officer at Capsule.
Event organizers are hoping for more days like this in the future
“We want every working American to have an Unsick Day. This is just year one. This is the start of the movement, and we think we’re off to a great start and hope to see more momentum among those employees and companies as we introduce it to the world. We really want people to take action and keep themselves healthy,” said Aptman.