New findings demonstrate unhealthy individual lifestyle choices may
result in substantially higher levels of lost productive work time,
according to a new study published in the October issue of Population
Health Management. The study, conducted with cross-sectional survey
data from 19,803 employees working at three large, geographically
dispersed companies, concluded that even one unhealthy behavior
increases the likelihood of lost productivity. Employees with an
unhealthy diet were 66 percent more likely to report having experienced
a loss in productivity than those who regularly ate whole grains, fruits
and vegetables. Employees who exercised only occasionally were 50
percent more likely to report having lower levels of productivity than
employees who were regular exercisers. Smokers were 28 percent more
likely to report suffering from a drop in productivity than non-smokers.
Researchers from Brigham Young University, the Health Enhancement
Research Organization (HERO) and the Center for Health Research at
Healthways analyzed the topic of "presenteeism" - being present at work,
but not performing optimally - by demographic variables, healthy
behaviors, physical health limitations and workplace conditions.
Information was collected from participating individuals with
Healthways' Well-Being Assessment, the individual-level instrument
designed to complement and correlate with the national and regional
well-being data collected through the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.
"Total health-related employee productivity loss accounts for 77 percent
of all such loss and costs employers two to three times more than annual
healthcare expenses," said lead author Ray Merrill, a Professor in the
Department of Health Science, Brigham Young University. "This study,
which analyzes an unusually large and geographically dispersed
population, represents a more comprehensive understanding of the
multitude of factors that drive presenteeism, thereby improving
employers' ability to meaningfully address this issue."
Findings related to physical health and healthy behaviors also revealed
that employees who had difficulty exercising during the day were 96
percent more likely to have increased productivity loss. Those employees
who rarely eat fruits, vegetables and other low-fat foods at work were
93 percent more likely to have a higher loss in productivity. In
addition, those who did not believe their workplace environment would
support them in becoming physically and emotionally healthier were more
likely to have a drop in productivity levels.
"We know that comprehensively measuring well-being helps employers take
steps to understand the drivers of lost productivity in their setting
and take pertinent steps to reduce it. Our research confirms that
employee productivity loss is associated with low well-being, poor
health behaviors, elevated health risks, and the presence of chronic
disease," said Dr. James Pope, vice president and chief science officer,
Healthways, Inc. "This information is significant because the number of
employees with excess body fat, poor diets, diabetes and sedentary
lifestyles has risen to unprecedented levels in the nation."
Along with health-related factors, work-related factors such as not
having enough time to perform job duties and insufficient technological
support and or resources, had a strong and significant influence on
worker productivity loss. Personal problems and financial stress also
contributed substantially to productivity loss. Factors contributing
less to a loss in productivity included physical limitations, depression
or anxiety, inadequate job training and problems with supervisors and
The study also revealed that a productivity loss was highest among those
aged 30-39 and was lowest among those 60 and older. It was more
prevalent among women than men and among those separated, divorced or
widowed than married individuals. Clerical or office workers in the
service and transportation industries experienced the highest levels of
productivity loss. Experiencing the lowest level of productivity loss
are employees in industries such as farming, forestry, fishing,
construction and mining.
"It's critical that companies look deeper at productivity loss and
measure it to understand the impact it is making on their bottom line,"
said Jerry Noyce, CEO of HERO. "Business leaders have the ability to
reduce the factors that significantly impact productivity loss by
implementing comprehensive, best practice workplace wellness programs
focused on well-being improvement, which in turn, can lead to
improvements in employee satisfaction, productivity and profitability
About the Health Enhancement Research Organization
The Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) is a non-profit
corporation dedicated to the creation and dissemination of employee
health management research, education, policy, strategy and leadership.
To learn more, visit www.the-hero.org.
Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY) is the largest independent global provider of
well-being improvement solutions. Dedicated to creating a healthier
world one person at a time, the Company uses the science of behavior
change to produce and measure positive change in well-being for our
customers, which include employers, integrated health systems,
hospitals, physicians, health plans, communities and government
entities. We provide highly specific and personalized support for each
individual and their team of experts to optimize each participant's
health and productivity and to reduce health-related costs. Results are
achieved by addressing longitudinal health risks and care needs of
everyone in a given population. The Company has scaled its proprietary
technology infrastructure and delivery capabilities developed over 30
years and now serves approximately 40 million people on four continents.
Learn more at www.healthways.com.
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Barbara Tabor, 651-450-1342