Worker Productivity Measures

Many employers are unaware of the linkages between health and productivity. While employers understand that investing in human capital improves the company bottom line, they are only beginning to understand the impact health has on worker productivity.

  • In fact, indirect costs of poor health including absenteeism, disability, or reduced work output may be several times higher than direct medical costs1
  • Productivity losses related to personal and family health problems cost U.S. employers $1,685 per employee per year, or $225.8 billion annually2

These indirect costs affect all employers, even those who avoid direct medical costs by not funding health insurance.

Example – Employee Health Concern: Obesity
  • The cost of obesity, including medical expenditures and absenteeism, for a company with 1,000 employees is estimated to be $277,000 per year3
  • Obese employees experience higher levels of absenteeism due to illness than normal weight employees4
  • In comparison, overweight women miss 3.9 days, a 15% increase in missed days; obese women (BMI greater than 30) miss 5.2 days, a 53% increase in missed days; and women with a BMI of 40 or higher miss 8.2 days, a 141% increase in missed days, almost one week more of missed work each year than normal-weight women5
  • Workplace health programs that improve employee health by reducing, preventing or controlling diseases can affect worker productivity
  • Improvements in physical, mental, and emotional health enhance stamina, concentration, and focus leading to greater work output
  • The cost savings of providing a workplace health program can be measured against:
    • Absenteeism among employees due to illness or injury
    • Reduced overtime to cover absent employees
    • Costs to train replacement employees

1.  Partnership for Prevention. Leading by Example: CEOs on the business case for worksite health promotion. Washington, DC: 2005.

2.  Stewart WF, Ricci JA, Chee E, Morganstein D. Lost productive work time costs from health conditions in the United States: results from the American productivity audit. J Occup Environ Med. 2003;45(12):1234-1246.

3.  Finkelstein EA, Brown DS. Why does the private sector underinvest in obesity prevention and treatment? NC Med J. 2006;67(4): 310-312.

4.  Tucker LA, Friedman GM. Financial analysis: obesity and absenteeism: an epidemiologic study of 10,825 employed adults. Am J Health Promot. 1998;12 (3): 202–207.

5.  Finkelstein EA, Fiebelkorn IC, Wang G. The costs of obesity among full-time employees. Am J Health Promot. 2005; 20(1): 45-51.