Study: Healthy Workers Are More Productive

Nashville, Tenn. — Jan. 8

Findings from a new peer-reviewed study of 20,000 U.S. workers suggests employers can maximize their employees’ job performance and reduce absenteeism by using a multi-pronged, integrated approach to well-being improvement.

The study, published Tuesday in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, demonstrates that employers seeking to improve worker productivity and reduce absenteeism should employ broad work-site based interventions encompassing employee health management and engagement strategies.

A team of researchers from the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO), Brigham Young University and the Center for Health Research at Healthways, finds better job performance and lower absenteeism for those workers who ate healthy and exercised on a regular basis. Absenteeism for those workers was 27 percent lower.

Key job performance findings include:

• Workers who ate healthy the entire day were 25 percent more likely to have higher job performance.
• Workers who ate five or more servings of fruit and vegetables on four or more days in the past week were 20 percent more likely to have higher job performance.
• Workers who exercised for 30 or more minutes on three or more days a week were 15 percent more likely to have higher job performance.

Results also indicate that while physical health and health risk are an important determinant of whether an individual shows up for work, the work environment itself is an important determinant of on-the-job performance. Thus, employers interested in truly bolstering the performance of their workforce should focus on multiple aspects of workers’ well-being.

This study provides an extensive look at obesity’s impact on job performance:

• Job performance was 11 percent higher among those workers who were not obese.
• Workers with well-managed chronic diseases experience higher productivity than individuals without chronic disease who are obese and do not exercise.
• Obese workers and those with a history of chronic disease and conditions related to pain and activity limitations were also more likely to have recurring absenteeism.
• Obese workers experienced lower job performance and higher absenteeism, compared to workers with depression and other chronic diseases or conditions.

Source: Healthways