Good ergonomics and team diversity reduce absenteeism and errors in car manufacturing

Ergonomics. 2014;57(2):148-61. doi: 10.1080/00140139.2013.875597. Epub 2014 Jan 15.


Prior research suggests that ergonomics work design and mixed teams (in age and gender) may compensate declines in certain abilities of ageing employees. This study investigates simultaneous effects of both team level factors on absenteeism and performance (error rates) over one year in a sample of 56 car assembly teams (N = 623). Results show that age was related to prolonged absenteeism and more mistakes in work planning, but not to overall performance. In comparison, high-physical workload was strongly associated with longer absenteeism and increased error rates. Furthermore, controlling for physical workload, age diversity was related to shorter absenteeism, and the presence of females in the team was associated with shorter absenteeism and better performance. In summary, this study suggests that both ergonomics work design and mixed team composition may compensate age-related productivity risks in manufacturing by maintaining the work ability of older employees and improving job quality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism*
  • Age Factors
  • Automobiles* / standards
  • Efficiency
  • Ergonomics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Manufacturing Industry
  • Physical Exertion
  • Sex Factors
  • Workload*