Page 1 of 1

Poor Worker Health Costs Businesses Billions

May 24 - Posted at 2:01 PM Tagged: , , , , , , ,

According to a recently released by Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, lost productivity due to workers’ poor health is costing the U.S. approximately $84 billion a year.


On average, 77% of workers either had one or more chronic conditions or had a higher-than-normal body mass index (BMI), according to the Gallup index, which surveyed 94,366 American adults working in 14 occupational categories. The respondents with chronic conditions or a high BMI reported missing work about one-third of a day more each month, on average, than those workers with a normal BMI and no chronic conditions. That lost time costs U.S. businesses from $160 million a year for agricultural workers to $24.2 billion a year for white collar professionals.


The index, conducted from Jan. 2 – Sept 10, 2012, asked respondents if they had ever had a health condition such as asthma, cancer, depression, diabetes, heart attack, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or recurring physical pain in the neck, back, knee, or leg.


The index collected data from the respondents on their height and weight so researchers could calculate their BMI. Respondents were classified as “obese” if they had a BMI of 30 or higher, as “overweight” if they had a BMI of 25-29, or as “normal” if they had a BMI of 18.5-24.9.


The 14 occupational categories that researchers examined were: professionals (excluding physicians, nurses, and teachers), management, services, clerical or office, sales, school teaching, nursing, transportation, manufacturing or production, business ownership, installation or repair, construction or mining, physicians, and agriculture.

86% of transportation workers had higher than normal BMIs or at least one chronic condition- the highest among the 14 categories. They reported missing 0.41 more work days a month than their healthier counterparts.


“This amounts to an estimated $3.5 billion in absenteeism costs per year that would be recouped” if employees were not overweight or had not been diagnosed with a chronic condition, researchers wrote.


As employers increasingly engage in improving the health of their workers, including implementing and strengthening the effectiveness of wellness programs, there are substantial potential savings that remain on the table from getting more employees to work each day as their health improves over time.

© 2024 Administrators Advisory Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved