Unhealthy Employees Drag Down Profits with PRESENTEEISM

If you are a small business owner and believe that health care benefits is not profitable to provide think again. Unhealthy employees aren’t very productive at work, according to a study in the October issue of Population Health Management. It may be costing you more by keeping an unhealthy and unproductive employee than assuaging the fears of many by providing flexible solutions for the health care needs of your employees.

Specifically, respondents with unhealthy diets are 66 percent more likely to be less productive than those who regularly eat whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Respondents who report exercising on occasion are 50 percent tend to perform less productively than respondents who regularly exercise, and respondents who smoke are 28 percent more likely to be less productive than nonsmokers.

The study comes from researchers at Brigham Young University, the Health Enhancement Research Organization and the Center for Health Research at Healthways who coined the word “presenteeism,” which is defined as being present at work but performing unsatisfactorily or below optimal levels.

“Total health-related employee productivity loss accounts for 77 percent of all such loss and costs employers two to three times more than annual health care expenses,” says Ray Merrill, lead author and professor in the Department of Health Science at 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.”

Among the respondents who report troubles exercising during the day, 96 percent are more likely to have greater productivity loss. Another 93 percent of respondents who generally do not eat fruits, vegetables and other lowfat foods at work are 93 percent more likely to be less.

“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,” says Dr. James Pope, vice president and chief science officer of Healthways Inc. “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. 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.”

Other factors that create a loss of productivity are work related, such as not having the time to perform job duties and insufficient technological support or resources, the study finds. Personal problems and financial stress play large roles in productivity loss, as well. Of the factors that contribute less in productivity loss are physical limitations, depression or anxiety, inadequate job training, and problems with supervisors and coworkers.

While productivity loss happens most in respondents age 30-39, it occurs least in respondents age 60 and older, and it is more common among women than men as well as those who are separated, divorced or widowed rather than married respondents. Respondents working in clerical or office roles in the service and transportation industries face the highest levels of productivity loss, and those with the lowest level of productivity loss are respondents in 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,” says 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 for employers.” This wellness programs and more are being provided with newer plans bought after the PPACP took effect.

Give us a call today and we will help you find the solutions you need for healthier employees and profits.