Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Three habits that drive down productivity

Smoking is one unhealthy behavior that increases the likelihood of lost productivity, according to a new study.

Memphis Business Journal

Cole Epley
Staff writer- Memphis Business Journal
Date: Tuesday, August 7, 2012, 10:39am CDT
Pack of cigarettes

Productivity model (Saari 2006)
Productivity model (Saari 2006) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Treating employees to in-office rewards like donuts and candy may sound like a good way to incentivize productivity, but a new study to be published in the October issue of Population Health Management found that a carrot — either off or on a stick — seems to be a better choice.

Researchers from Brigham Young University, the Health Enhancement Research Organization and the Center for Health Research at Franklin, Tenn.-based Healthways surveyed 19,803 employees working at three large companies across the country and found that any one of three unhealthy behaviors — poor diet, infrequent exercise and smoking — increased the likelihood of lost productivity.

Statue of Brigham Young on the Brigham Young U...
Statue of Brigham Young on the Brigham Young University campus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Employees with an unhealthy diet, for example, were 66 percent more likely to have experienced lost productivity than their cohorts who regularly ate healthy foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Smokers were 28 percent more likely to suffer lost productivity than non-smokers and those who exercised only occasionally were 50 percent more likely to be less productive than their more physically active counterparts.

While a less-healthy work force can lead to higher costs of health care and insurance, the productivity factor is a shockingly expensive one, according to Brigham Young professor Ray Merrill.

Health (Photo credit: 401(K) 2012)
“Total health-related employee productivity loss accounts for 77 percent of all such loss,” Merrill said in a release. “And (it) costs employers two to three times more than annual health care expenses.”

The study also showed losses in productivity were higher among employees ages 30 to 39, while productivity loss was lowest among employees ages 60 and older.

Click here to see a release about the study.

Cole Epley covers banking and finance; health care; law; insurance; and economic development. Contact him at
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