Employees who report higher levels of supervisor support for their health are less likely to report productivity loss due to health-related presenteeism, reports a study in the January Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
“Lower perceived supervisor support for health [PSSH] significantly increased the prevalence of high presenteeism one year later,” according to the new research by Takahiro Mori, MD, MOH, and colleagues of Kitakyushu, Japan.
Defined as “health-related productivity loss while at paid work,” presenteeism is the largest source of lost work productivity due to health reasons, with costs even higher than direct healthcare costs. A previous study by Dr. Mori and colleagues linked lower PSSH to higher presenteeism, but could not show a causal association.
The new study included surveys completed by 10,718 non-managerial employees of seven Japanese companies. All companies were actively promoting health and productivity management (HPM). In initial and 1-year follow-up surveys, employees rated their perceptions of supervisor support for their health (“My supervisor supports employees to work vigorously and live a health life”) as well as how health problems affected the quantity and quality of their work.
As in the previous study, employees with higher ratings of PSSH in the initial survey had lower ratings of presenteeism. In the follow-up survey, the percentage of employees with high presenteeism was 14.8% for those with very high ratings of PSSH, 20.1% for high PSSH, 27.6% for low PSSH, and 41.2% for very low PSSH.
After adjustment for other factors, including initial presenteeism score, employees reporting higher levels of PSSH at the initial survey were less likely to have high presenteeism at follow-up. Compared to employees with very high PSSH, the odds of developing presenteeism were about one-third higher for those with high PSSH, two-thirds higher for those with low PSSH, and nearly 1.5 times higher for those with very low PSSH.
The results “suggest that lower PSSH significantly increased the prevalence of high presenteeism one year later among employees in companies that are actively promoting HPM,” Dr. Mori and coauthors write. They outline steps that organizations can take to increase PSSH—emphasizing supervisors' role in creating healthy working environments and encouraging employees to participate in health promotion programs.
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About the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (www.joem.org
) is the official journal of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Edited to serve as a guide for physicians, nurses, and researchers, the clinically oriented research articles are an excellent source for new ideas, concepts, techniques, and procedures that can be readily applied in the industrial or commercial employment setting.