The association of health risks with on-the-job productivity

J Occup Environ Med. 2005 Aug;47(8):769-77. doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000169088.03301.e4.


Objective: Decreased on-the-job productivity represents a large yet poorly characterized indirect cost to employers. We studied the impact of employee health risk factors on self-reported worker productivity (presenteeism).

Methods: Using a brief version of the Work Limitation Questionnaire incorporated into a Health Risk Appraisal, 28,375 employees of a national company responded to the survey. The association between health risks and work limitation and each of the four domains was examined. Percentage of lost productivity also was estimated.

Results: Ten of 12 health risk factors studied were significantly associated with self-reported work limitations. The strength of the associations varied between risks and the four domains of work limitation. Perception-related risk factors such as life dissatisfaction, job dissatisfaction, poor health, and stress showed the greatest association with presenteeism. As the number of self-reported health risk factors increased, so did the percentage of employees reporting work limitations. Each additional risk factor was associated with 2.4% excess productivity reduction. Medium and high-risk individuals were 6.2% and 12.2% less productive than low-risk individuals, respectively. The annual cost of lost productivity in this corporation was estimated at between 99Mdollars and 185Mdollars or between 1392dollars and 2592dollars per employee.

Conclusions: Health risk factors represent additional causes of lost productivity.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Efficiency*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • Industry / economics
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Midwestern United States
  • Occupational Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires