We believe in the Health Benefits of Good Work

The evidence is compelling: for most individuals, working improves general health and wellbeing and reduces psychological distress.

There have been lots of studies to show that people who go back to work often end up with a shorter recovery time than those who don’t.

The studies have also shown that the longer you have off work, the longer it takes to return to work. We call this ‘the health benefits of good work’ and over our journey with you, you will hear more about this as we progress towards getting you back to wellbeing and work.

Work is good for your physical and mental health

A research review from the United Kingdom posed the question, ‘Is work good for your health and wellbeing?’, and concluded that overall, the beneficial effects of work outweigh the risks.

In addition, the review’s authors — Professor Gordon Waddell and Professor Kim Burton — show that the health benefits of work are much greater than the harmful effects of long term unemployment or prolonged sickness absence.

The evidence shows that good work may benefit an individual by:

  • Ensuring that some physical activity is undertaken on work days
  • Providing a sense of community and social inclusion
  • Allowing workers to feel they are making a contribution to their family and society
  • Giving structure to days and weeks
  • Providing financial security
  • Decreasing the likelihood that an individual will engage in risky behaviours

Returning to work is an effective treatment

It’s important to know that you don’t have to wait until you are 100% recovered before you return to work. In fact, recovery at work – with duties and hours that suit your condition – is often the best medicine.

Taking extended time off work often sees a worsening rather than an improvement in symptoms and conditions. Work absence tends to perpetuate itself. That is, the longer someone is off work, the less likely they become ever to return.

The evidence demonstrates that:

  • Work is an important part of rehabilitation and recovery
  • The longer someone is off work, the less chance they have of returning
  • Most common health conditions will not be ‘cured’ by treatment
  • Work is a therapeutic intervention, meaning it is a part of the treatment
  • Even if work is uncomfortable or difficult, it usually does not cause lasting damage
  • Typically, waiting for recovery will actually delay the recovery
  • Staying away from work may lead to depression, isolation and poorer health
  • Employer-supported, early return to work helps recovery, prevents de-conditioning and helps provide people with appropriate social contacts and support mechanisms

IPAR is a signatory to the Consensus Statement on the Health Benefits of Work

IPAR is a proud signatory to the Realising the Health Benefits of Work Consensus Statement. This statement, from the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (AFOEM) and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), presents compelling evidence that work is generally good for health and wellbeing, and that long-term work absence, work disability and unemployment generally have a negative impact on health and wellbeing.

The purpose of the consensus statement is to bring together a wide range of stakeholders, who each affirm the importance of work as a determinant of health. As a signatory to the statement, we at IPAR commit to:

  • Promoting the awareness of the health benefits of good work
  • Offering support and encouragement to those attempting to access the health benefits of good work
  • Encouraging employers’ continuing support of workers’ occupational health
  • Advocating for continuous improvement in public policy around work and health, in line with the principles articulated in the consensus statement

References:

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine Position Statement on Realising the Health Benefits Work, Sydney 2011.    

Waddell G, Burton A. Is work good for your health and well‐being? London, UK: The Stationery Office; 2006.