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Study examines correlation between health, missed work days

According to a recent study performed by researchers at Gallup, workplace accidents/injuries, work comp defense costs and employee fraud aren't the only things costing U.S. employers millions of dollars a year.

The study - performed as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-being Index - sought to determine how much employee comorbidities (i.e., chronic health conditions) are costing U.S. employers in terms of missed work days.

Shockingly, researchers found that U.S. employees with one or more chronic health conditions are missing an average of 450 million work days each year. This translates into almost $153 billion a year.

The study arrived at these results by asking almost 110,000 full-time U.S. employees a series of questions from January 2 through October 2 regarding so-called unhealthy days and missed work days caused by chronic health conditions.

(They found that one unhealthy day - defined as the inability to perform usual activities due to poor health - was equivalent to .31 missed work days.)

Chronic health conditions included obesity, and/or whether a person had been diagnosed with a heart attack, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer, diabetes, asthma, depression or chronic neck/back/knee leg pain over the previous 12 months.

Here, researchers determined that 86 percent of study participants had at least one chronic health condition.

Non-obese employees with no chronic health conditions were found to average .34 unhealthy days a month. However, the amount of unhealthy days per month rose with each chronic health condition present.

To illustrate:

  • Obese full-time employees averaged .36 unhealthy days a month
  • Obese full-time employees with one or two additional chronic health conditions averaged 1.08 unhealthy days a month
  • Obese full-time employees with three or more additional chronic health conditions averaged 3.51unhealthy days a month
  • Non-obese full-time employees with one or two additional chronic health conditions averaged 1.07 unhealthy days a month

"The high percentages of fulltime U.S. workers who have less than ideal health are a significant drain on productivity for U.S. businesses," reads the report. "However, employees and employers have the opportunity to potentially increase productivity if they address the health issues that are currently plaguing the workplace."

Stay tuned for further developments in the area of workers' compensation defense law ...

Workers compensation fraud/employee fraud is a very serious crime. If you suspect that such a crime has been perpetrated against your organization, you should strongly consider speaking with an experienced workers' comp defense attorney.

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.


Risk & Insurance, "Gallup poll: Unhealthy lifestyles costing businesses $153 billion annually" Nov. 4, 2011

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