The Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO)(Graphic: Business Wire)

Findings from a new peer-reviewed study of 20,000 American workers suggests employers can maximize their employees’ job performance and reduce absenteeism by using a multi-pronged, integrated approach to well-being improvement. The study published today in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine demonstrates that employers seeking to improve worker productivity and reduce absenteeism should employ broad work-site based interventions encompassing employee health management and engagement strategies.

A team of researchers from the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO), Brigham Young University and the Center for Health Research at Healthways finds better job performance and lower absenteeism for those workers who ate healthy and exercised on a regular basis. Absenteeism for those workers was 27% lower. Key job performance findings include:
  • Workers who ate healthy the entire day were 25% more likely to have higher job performance.
  • Workers who ate five or more servings of fruit and vegetables on four or more days in the past week were 20% more likely to have higher job performance.
  • Workers who exercised for 30 or more minutes on three or more days a week were 15% more likely to have higher job performance.

Results indicate that while physical health and health risk are an important determinant of whether an individual shows up for work, the work environment itself is an important determinant of on-the-job performance. Thus, employers interested in truly bolstering the performance of their workforce should focus on multiple aspects of workers’ well-being.

“This latest study investigating the link between employee health, performance and productivity reinforces the business case for employers to provide comprehensive, evidence-based health management programs for their workforce,” said Jerry Noyce, president and CEO of HERO.

This study provides an extensive look at obesity’s impact on job performance:
  • Job performance was 11% higher among those workers who were not obese.
  • Workers with well-managed chronic diseases experience higher productivity than individuals without chronic disease who are obese and do not exercise.
  • Obese workers and those with a history of chronic disease and conditions related to pain and activity limitations were also more likely to have recurring absenteeism.
  • Obese workers experienced lower job performance and higher absenteeism, compared to workers with depression and other chronic diseases or conditions.

“More employers are defining individual well-being through the performance and productivity of their workforce,” said Carter Coberley, vice president, Health Research and Outcomes at Healthways. “Well-being is gaining recognition as an important measure that relates both to the quality of life of individuals as well as to financial measures that are important to business and government leaders. Well-being can also serve as an important business success metric through its demonstrated relationship to employee absence and job performance as measured in multiple large employers.”

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