, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 331-339
Date: 18 Nov 2009

Productivity Loss at Work; Health-Related and Work-Related Factors

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Introduction Productivity loss is an increasing problem in an aging working population that is decreasing in numbers. The aim of this study is to identify work-related and health-related characteristics associated with productivity loss, due to either sickness absence or reduced performance at work. Methods In this cross-sectional study, data of the Netherlands Working Conditions Survey of 2007 were used, which includes a national representative sample of 22,759 employees aged 15 to 64 years. Demographic characteristics, health-related and work-related factors were assessed with a questionnaire. Logistic regression analyses were carried out to study the relationship of work-related and health-related factors with low performance at work and sickness absence in the past 12 months. Results Poor general health, the number of longstanding health conditions, and most types of longstanding health conditions were associated with productivity loss. Health-related factors were in general stronger associated with sickness absence than with low performance at work. Performance: poor health OR 1.54 CI 1.38–1.71, >1 health conditions OR 1.21 CI 1.09–1.35; sickness absence: poor health OR 2.62 CI 2.33–2.93, >1 health conditions OR 2.47 CI 2.21–2.75. Of the different types of longstanding health conditions, only psychological complaints and to a small extent musculoskeletal symptoms, were associated with low performance (respectively OR 1.54 CI 1.27–1.87; OR 1.09 CI 1.00–1.18). Low performance at work was less likely among employees with high physically demanding work (shift work OR 0.70 CI 0.63–0.76, using force OR 0.78 CI 0.72–0.84, and repetitive movements OR 0.74 CI 0.70–0.79). Psychosocial factors were stronger associated with low performance at work than with sickness absence (performance: job autonomy OR 1.28 CI 1.21–1.37, job demands OR 1.23 CI 1.16–1.31, emotionally demanding work OR 1.73 CI 1.62–1.85; sickness absence: job autonomy ns, job demands OR 1.09 CI 1.03–1.17, emotionally demanding work OR 1.09 CI 1.02–1.16). Conclusion Except for psychological complaints, workers with a longstanding health condition generally perform well while being at work. Nevertheless, the likelihood of taking sick leave is increased. Among work-related factors, psychosocial work characteristics have the strongest relation with productivity loss, mostly with performance while at work.