Behavioral Science

What Effect Reduced Work Hours Have on Productivity: A Study on Presenteeism

Written by Amber

The standard employee works an 8 hour work day, occasionally clocking in over time, presumably to accomplish more work. However, more time devoted to work doesn’t necessarily mean that more work is getting done. Presenteeism is one of the largest threats to productivity, and companies everywhere are doing what they can to combat it. Corporations are ramping up their healthcare plans, offering more flexible hours to reduce this crisis, and generally trying to promote wellness in the workplace. In a 2011 study, Ulrica von Thiele Schwarz and Henna Hasson sought to determine how onsite work health interventions affected productivity, and if it contributed to presenteeism. We’ve summarized their learnings below.

Presenteeism is the phenomenon of being at work while not being productive. Contributing factors can include a lack of engagement and poor health. Previous studies, such as Milles et al, found that when employees participate in workplace health programs, it reduces the effects of presentism, and increases employee self rated productivity. Other research emphasizes this, finding that physical exercise further increases productivity by improving employee’s mental health.

In von Thiele Schwarz and Hasson’s study, they aimed to examine two forms of workplace health interventions. Two groups of employees were removed from their work duties for 2.5 hours out of their 40 hour work week. Group A participated in exercise during that time, while Group B were allowed to do as they pleased. They found that the employees in Group A rated themselves to have higher productivity levels at work. Group B found no change in productivity levels.

They suggest that the increased productivity isn’t directly related to health, but instead is a function of job motivation, which was not measured in the study. They also suggest that members of Group A and B may have needed to use work hours more efficiently, which contributed to the stable and increased levels of productivity.

What does this mean for your company?

This means that your weekly workplace yoga class is doing more to increase your employee’s productivity, rather than decrease it. If you don’t have a wellness program in place yet, you’re missing out. The benefits are too good to pass up! Don’t know where to start? Ask IncentFit about our simple and flexible platform.