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Project: Validation of an instrument measuring production loss due to health- and work environment-related problems

Work-related illness is still a major concern in many organizations and leads to great cost, for example production loss. It is an indirect cost that is underestimated for most employers. Production loss is a measure that often combines days absent from work (absenteeism) and difficulties performing while at work (presenteeism). Presenteeism can be defined as reduced performance or production at work due to an employee’s impaired health or a health condition. Previous studies have estimated costs related to presenteeism, to be higher than costs related to sickness absence, and some studies estimate these costs to be as much as two to three times higher. Therefore, by reducing presenteeism, organizations can achieve major savings as well as gain competitive advantages.

Production loss could be defined as the difference between what employees normally produce and how much they produce when affected by the problem, i.e. if for example a health condition reduces the employee’s performance to a lower level a production loss will arise. Other factors besides employee health may also affect the performance of the employee, and only measuring the contribution of ill-health might underestimate the actual production loss from a company perspective. In order to make clear the business value of an employee’s health and communicate to employers the reason for investing in employee’s health, a questionnaire adopting a performance-based approach to estimate health- and work environment-related production losses was developed. However, practical concerns surround not only the feasibility of measuring production losses but also how lost productivity due to health impairment or work environment problems should be measured still remains.

In this study, a measurement instrument applicable to different working populations is used to measure the effect of health- and work environment-related problems on employee performance. The instrument, developed in the research group, is currently being tested for validity and reliability. This instrument could be useful in order to determine to what extent the problem affects performance and to assess the effect a combination of problems or risks has on performance. It could also be used to evaluate the change over time as part of an intervention evaluation.

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