Can changes in employee health risk factors have a significant impact on work productivity? Yes, says a new report in the April Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
The researchers took a look at 97,000 health assessment surveys of workers between 2009 and 2011. The participants Health Risk Scores were analyzed as predictors of work absenteeism and presenteeism health-related issues limiting work ability.
The researchers found a fairly strong correlation between health risks and productivity. Reductions in health risks between surveys were related to improved productivity in future years an effect that was cumulative over time.
The effects of changes in health risks were relatively small, suggesting that other factors not considered in the study also affect productivity. The researchers suggest that additional types of policies such as flexible work times and worker recognition programs may be necessary to improve productivity for all workers.
The productivity benefits of improved health are cumulative over time, highlighting the need for companies to make continuous investments in the culture of health," said co-author Laura Haglund-Howieson, MBA, of StayWell in St Paul, Minn. "The key implication is that health improvements must be maintained over time so the productivity impacts can accumulate.
Haglund-Howieson and colleagues note that average health risks decreased slightly but significantly over the three years of the study - probably because of the health promotion programs that were available to employees.