Researchers surveyed employees of a major Fortune 500 company and found nearly 30 percent were in pain beyond the normal everyday aches and pains, like toothaches or muscle sprains.
Lost productivity due to performing at less than 100 percent on the job (presenteeism) as well as missing work days (absenteeism) amounted to about four days a month for those in pain compared with less than half a day for healthy employees.
Researchers say the findings confirm that pain in the workplace is a major cause of lost productivity that merits greater attention by employers.
Four common pain conditions (headaches, arthritis, back pain, and other musculoskeletal problems) cause productivity losses among 13 percent of the U.S. workforce at a cost of more than $62 billion per year, they write.
Measuring Employee Pain
In this study, researchers looked at the burden of pain among more than 1,000 employees of a Fortune 500 company based in the Northeast to determine the extent of the problem and identify possible targets for interventions.
Researchers measured pain among employees by asking them how much bodily pain they had experienced in the last four weeks and whether they were experiencing pain other than common, everyday aches and pains on the day of the survey.
The results showed that nearly 30 percent of the employees were in pain. Pain among employees was linked to a 45 percent drop in overall physical health and a 23 percent drop in mental health.