Comparing the Contributions of Well-Being and Disease Status to Employee Productivity

Published in Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

Authors: Gandy, WM, Coberley, CR, Pope, JE, Wells, A, Rula, EY

Objective: To compare employee overall well-being to chronic disease status, which has a long-established relationship to productivity, as relative contributors to on-the-job productivity.

Methods: Data from two annual surveys of three companies were used in longitudinal analyses of well-being as a predictor of productivity level and productivity change among 2629 employees with diabetes or without any chronic conditions.

Results: Well-being was the most significant predictor of productivity cross-sectionally in a model that included disease status and demographic characteristics. Longitudinally, changes in well-being contributed to changes in productivity above and beyond what could be explained by the presence of chronic disease or other fixed characteristics.

Conclusions: These findings support the use of well-being as the broader framework for understanding, explaining, and improving employee productivity in both the healthy and those with disease.

Key Takeaways:

  • This study directly compared well-being to chronic disease status as predictors of worker productivity to determine the importance of well-being in the context of existing re- search on chronic conditions as a primary determinant of productivity.
  • Results showed an individual’s well-being is a stronger predictor of their productivity level than chronic disease status or other demographic characteristics.
  • Over time, changes in well-being contributed significantly to changes in productivity above and beyond what could be explained by any individual characteristic, including fixed/stable factors such as disease status (any condition), age, gender, and socioeconomic status.
  • When the non-diseased and diseased groups were evaluated separately, well-being was the strongest independent contributor to productivity in each group.
  • This study supports that a well-being improvement strategy can benefit the productivity of an entire population — from the healthy to the diseased.
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