Productivity Loss Due to Mental- and Physical-Health Decrements: Distinctions in Research and Practice

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Corporate and public interest in the relationship between individual well-being and organizational performance has been on the rise in recent years. One topic that has received significant attention with regard to performance decrements is productivity loss that occurs either through absenteeism (i.e., a failure to attend work) or presenteeism (i.e., when employees show up to work but, due to either physical- or mental-health factors, are not able to perform at full capacity). Although researchers and practitioners acknowledge that productivity loss can result from either physical- or mental-health decrements, most research, especially research in the presenteeism context, either focuses on physical-health decrements or confounds the 2. In 2 studies we examine the potential differences in productivity loss that occur due to mental-health, as opposed physical-health, decrements. While a moderate relationship exists between them, both factors contributed uniquely to the explanation of other key well-being constructs (i.e., satisfaction with work-life balance, emotional exhaustion, work engagement, depression, life satisfaction, and turnover intentions). Productivity loss due to mental-health decrements appears to be more associated with cognitive/emotional work-related outcomes, while productivity loss due to physical-health decrements demonstrates little to no relationship with those outcomes. However, both may manifest themselves psychologically in the form of depression, which subsequently links them to other well-being outcomes.

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