The Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) topic area is designed to identify ways to create social and physical environments that promote good health for all. Last year, according to Healthy People 2020, our health is determined in part by social and economic opportunities; the resources and supports available in our homes, neighborhoods, and communities; the quality of our schooling; the safety of our workplaces; the cleanliness of our water, food, and air; and the nature of our social interactions and relationships. Also noted is that the conditions in which we live explain in part why some Americans are healthier than others and why Americans more generally are not as healthy as they could be.

We know that taking care of ourselves is important. Social determinants are conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health and quality of life risks and outcomes, including:

  • Socioeconomic Status
  • Education
  • Health and Health Care
  • Neighborhood and Physical Environment
  • Social Support Networks

These topics have a greater impact on population health than factors such as biology, behavior, and health care. There is a growing number of programs to address the SDOH within and outside of the health care system. Outside of the healthcare system, many initiatives have been developed to help shape policies and practices in non-health sectors to help promote health and health equity.

In the workplace, many aspects such as the work environment, compensation, job security, and demands may affect the health of employees. SDOH are most certainly more than personal because employees bring their personal lives to work with them. Employees that may be dealing with SDOH concerns may show some signs within their performance. Signs of concern may be:

  • Performance-related concerns
  • Attendance issues
  • Stressful co-worker/manager relations
  • Difficult or unusual behaviors
  • High turnover rates
  • Low employee engagement

As an employer, it is important to be aware of what SDOH may be affecting their employee population. Taking steps to fill in the gaps that employees may be facing can impact the employees’ overall wellbeing. By being aware of the social determinants affecting both your community and workplace can help you serve and support the needs of your team and promote equity in the workplace.