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Workplace Wellness: Measuring Productivity

What is productivity and why is having a productive workforce important? What are the costs of low productivity? In this blog, we will examine all these questions and hopefully provides some tips and ideas on how to enhance your employee’s moral, health, and productivity.

Webster dictionary defines productivity as: the quality or state of being productive. Workplace productivity can be thought of as the amount and quality of work your employees can complete in a certain amount of time. Essentially, the more productive your employees are, the more work they can complete, and complete well, in a typical workday.

What do the most successful companies in the US have in common? They have productive employees. So, what are a few qualities of a productive employee?

First, productive employees usually have a positive mindset. A positive work environment and culture can encourage positivity in employees.

Second, productive employees are ‘present’. Present in the sense that they don’t miss work (absenteeism) often. And when they are at work, they are focused on the task at hand. Employees with a healthy work/life balance are more likely to be present because they generally do not feel overworked, overwhelmed, or burnt out.

Third, productive employees are often physically and mentally healthy. Why does that matter? Well, for those physically and mentally healthy they are less likely to miss work due to illness or injury. They are usually less stressed, well-rested, have a strong immune system, and are generally happy.

This is all good and sounds nice, but how big a deal is it really if employees are not all that positive, present, and healthy? It’s a very big deal! Among the costs related to employee health the cost of lost productivity is on average 2 to 3 times more than medical and pharmacy costs. US businesses spend on average $450-550 billion annually on lost productivity.

A 2009 study reported in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (JOEM) examining over 700,00 employees at 106 different employers in 5 different industry sectors using health risk assessment data and self-reported productivity loss as base-line data identified 8 specific health risk factors that directly contribute to employee lost productivity. The 8 risks are: back pain (13% loss), depression (7.4% loss), stress (4.8% loss), inactivity (2.2% loss), no seatbelt use (2.2% loss), tobacco smoke (1.8% loss), overweight BMI of >25 (1 % loss) and alcohol abuse .7% loss). Programs and resources designed to address and reduce these risks such as a health coaching program can have a positive impact on the employee’s health, wellness, and quality of life and the company’s bottom line.

What can be done to improve employee productivity? Employee surveys, flexible work schedules, updated technology and tools, and internal growth opportunities are all great ways to promote productivity. Promoting a culture of wellness can also help to foster employee productivity and well-being. An environment that supports and celebrates total health, wellness and balance will lead to a productive and healthy work culture.

Interested in providing your employees with a comprehensive wellness program that can help improve health, stress, and productivity levels of your employees? Contact us to learn more, Wellness Workdays can help!


Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Volume 51. March 2009


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