News > What is Social Determinants of Health and Why Do you Care?

What is Social Determinants of Health and Why Do you Care?

What is Social Determinants of Health?

According to the World Health Organization, the Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power, and resources at global, national, and local levels. The SDOH are mostly responsible for health inequities—the unfair and avoidable difference in health status seen within and between countries.

In other words, your zip code is more influential than your genetic code when it comes to overall health and life expectancy. People living in contiguous zip codes can have drastically different average health status. True!

Who is Responsible for SDOH?

Instead of pondering who was responsible to mitigate these risks for our employees, at Dasher, we looked for explanations about why these risks existed for certain employees. As we pondered how this slight difference in location could have been unnoticeable to us, we learned that this is apparent to people living in a zip code with lower life expectancy. Here is a telling statement that we heard: “We can see the other world even though the other world can’t see us. “

Our learning process also helped the Dasher leadership to take a new perspective on the work of community service organizations. For years, community service organizations have been attempting to mitigate the problems faced by low-wage, economically fragile workers.

As employers, we can do more since we benefit from having a healthy workforce.  The first step is to become educated about social, cultural, political, economic, commercial and environmental factors that shape the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. These factors determine the health challenges that an individual is likely to face.

The better you and your executive team understand why employees face challenges in attendance and at work, the more equipped you are to support them in ways that will improve attendance, productivity and quality of work.

In our next blog entry, “Gossip is Poison,” we explain some of the why we ban it completely.

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