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Workplace Tension 

Can your job kill you? Recent studies have shown there’s a possible connection between on-the-job stress and heart disease. People who can’t cope with chronic pressure also tend to eat unhealthy food, smoke, drink and skip exercise. Workplace stress contributes to absenteeism, diminished productivity and higher medical, legal and insurance costs.

That’s why more companies and organizations are striving to create healthier work environments and making the effort to provide education and help employees manage their stress.

Inland Northwest Health Services — an organization with nearly 1,100 employees  — is an example of one company in the region that’s ahead of the curve. INHS makes sure employees have the tools to balance work with family obligations and other responsibilities, says Phyllis Gabel, INHS’s chief human resources officer. Many have the ability to set their own schedules, work flex time or part-time and even telecommute. Some of INHS’s health initiatives include: classes and seminars on stress relief and how to de-stress one’s desk and work space; offering gift cards and other incentives for those who document the steps they’ve taken to become healthier; diabetes education; an onsite chair massage; exercise balls that people can use at their desks; and free biometric health screenings that include testing for blood pressure, cholesterol and body fat.

Some INHS employees also have come up with their own ways to take better care of themselves and each other, says Gabel. For instance, groups of people have started getting together to walk during lunch or to climb the 17 flights of stairs at INHS’s downtown office during their breaks.

INHS’s “health@work” — a comprehensive health, wellness and productivity program — is available to other companies and organizations throughout the region.

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