The success of one’s business largely depends on the performance of its employees. That’s essentially why employers conduct a crucial hiring process. It guarantees them to get the best people to do the work for their company. Yet, over time, even the best employees are not immune to slacking off. Once employees start to lose their motivation, their productivity to do their work will simultaneously decline. This decline in work output will cost the performance of the company in general.

Several factors influence how each employee accomplishes his/her job. Some may be too troubled with their personal issues to focus on their tasks. Or some may feel so overwhelmed with the task at hand that they cannot finish even one at all. Or perhaps, some employees are just too lazy to do what they’re supposed to do. Ever wondered what factors determine the total productivity of a particular employee? How about their impact on the company?

Well, a study done by distinguished researchers from Brigham Young University, the Health Enhancement Research Organization, and the Center for Health Research at Healthways was conducted in an effort to provide answers to these queries. Their main result showed the relevant impact of a healthy diet on one’s productivity. Specifically, an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, and smoking habits are the main culprit cutting down the employees’ ability to do their job optimally.

Healthy diet impacts productivity

Recently published at the Population Health Management journal, this study was carried out by letting employees at certain companies answer a particular survey. In total, 19,803 employees employed in three large and geographically-separated companies participated in the study. Strong evidence points to the unhealthy lifestyle choice of an individual as the main reason for a significantly higher productivity loss in work time.

Quoting from the words of Dr. James Pope, the vice-president and chief science officer at Healthways, “Our research confirms that employee productivity loss is associated with low well-being, poor health behaviors, elevated health risks and the presence of chronic disease,” Moreover, he also added that these findings are highly relevant nowadays because of the unprecedented increase in the number of employees with a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, excess fat, and diabetes.

Healthy diet impacts productivity

Specific factors cutting down one’s daily accomplishment

The study revealed that there is a tendency of a 66% decrease in productivity for those employees with an unhealthy diet as compared to those employees who regularly include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables in their diet. As for exercise, a 50% decrease in productivity is more likely to be reported for those employees who exercise occasionally than the ones who exercise regularly. Unlike non-smokers, employees who smoke suffer a 28% decrease in their work productivity.

Apart from that, employees who perceived their workplace as a barrier to becoming physically and emotionally healthier have a bigger tendency to have a larger productivity loss. Meanwhile, a beaming 96% chance of only a drop in productivity was recorded for employees having difficulty exercising during the workday.

Other work-related and personal factors also showed a significant contribution to the loss of productivity in the employees. These factors include inadequate technological support, limited time to perform their duties, and financial stress.

Specific factors cutting down one’s daily accomplishment

Which employees are more affected?

Based on the study, the highest productivity loss was observed for employees aged 30 to 39 years old and lowest among employees aged 60 years and older. Women have a significant tendency of decreased productivity as compared to men. In addition, unlike married colleagues in work, greater productivity loss is more prevalent for those employees who were separated, divorced, or widowed.

A high level of productivity loss has been documented in different kinds of jobs. Among these jobs, the highest lost productivity in work time was reported to be in those clerical or office employees working in the service and transportation industries. On the other hand, workers involved in farming and forestry as well as in mining and construction industries were shown to have the least levels of lost productivity in their work.

In other words, those working comfortably under a more convenient setting are the ones doing less work than they are expected to. They have the tendency to slack off by not making the most out of their working hours. And as you compare it to workers who are subjected to slightly unfavorable settings, these workers are the ones working so hard and maximizing their productivity at work. These workers do their work even being subjected to the intense heat of the sun, carrying a literal heavy workload, and many more.

Which employees are more affected

The takeaway of the study

Having such evidence in the study, companies should know better how to promote a healthy and sustainable work environment for their employees. As stated by Jerry Noyce, the CEO of the Health Enhancement Research Organization, “It’s critical that companies look deeper at productivity loss and measure it to understand the impact it is making on their bottom line”.

By analyzing and pointing out the reasons of productivity loss in their companies, business leaders can offer solutions that specifically resolve the root cause of the issue. In this case, it is the impact of a healthy diet that will drive each employee to be more productive at work. Companies can then implement plans that will beat this productivity loss. Such plans can include comprehensive wellness programs aimed to improve the well-being and satisfaction of their employees.

The takeaway of the study


The study proves how a healthy diet impacts productivity. It specifically singled out the main key factors largely affecting employee’s productivity at work namely smoking, unhealthy diet, and lack of exercise. Employing better practices and wellness programs in their workplace will continually stimulate their employees not to dwindle away. This will provide a win-win situation for both the employee and the company. The employee will be engaged in healthier practices and geared toward a sustainable lifestyle. Eventually, they will be more productive in their job and hence, offering optimum performance. And at the same, the employers will yield better business outcomes and better profit.