Published in Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

Author(s): Ray M. Merrill, PhD, MPH; Steven G. Aldana, PhD; James E. Pope, MD; David R. Anderson, PhD, LP; Carter R. Coberley, PhD; Jessica J. Grossmeier, PhD; R. William Whitmer, MBA; and HERO Research Study Subcommittee

Objective: To better understand the combined influence of employee engagement, health behavior, and physical health on job performance and absenteeism.

Methods: Analyses were based on 20,114 employees who completed the Healthways Well-Being Assessment from 2008 to 2010. Employees represented three geographically dispersed companies in the United States.

Results: Employee engagement, health behavior, and physical health indices were simultaneously significantly associated with job performance and also with absenteeism. Employee engagement had a greater association with job performance than did the health behavior or physical health indices, whereas the physical health index was more strongly associated with absenteeism. Specific elements of the indices were evaluated for association with self-rated job performance and absenteeism.

Conclusion: Efforts to improve worker productivity should take a holistic approach encompassing employee health improvement and engagement strategies.

Key Takeaways:

  • Using data from more than 20,000 employees from three companies, this study evaluated the relationship between Well-Being Assessment measures and worker productivity.
  • Workers with higher scores with respect to work environment factors were between 15% and 70% more likely to have high self-rated job performance and were between 16% and 35% less likely to have been absent in the last month as compared with workers with lower scores.
  • Health behaviors, including smoking, healthy diet and exercise, also impacted performance.
  • Specifically, workers who ate healthy the entire day were 25% more likely to have high job performance and 16% less likely to have an absence, while workers who exercised regularly
    were 15% more likely to have high job performance and 27% less likely to have an absence.