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'The Value of Rude Health': Employees' Well Being, Absence and Workplace Performance


  • David Marsden
  • Simone Moriconi


This paper brings new evidence on the relationship between employees' well being, sickness absence and four dimensions of workplace performance i.e. productivity, efficiency, quality of service and profitability. It uses a new panel dataset with monthly observations over two years for 48 local units of a large multi-site organisation in the logistics sector. It finds that good consultation and communication at the local level are associated with lower absenteeism. It also finds that lower absence is associated with higher efficiency, productivity, quality of the service and profitability of the firm. Finally, the authors suggest that the link between workers' absence and this firm's profitability runs through the increased use of replacement labour which raises short-run costs and reduces quality of service.

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  • David Marsden & Simone Moriconi, 2009. "'The Value of Rude Health': Employees' Well Being, Absence and Workplace Performance," CEP Discussion Papers dp0919, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0919

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Coles, Melvyn G. & Treble, John G., 1996. "Calculating the price of worker reliability," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 169-188, September.
    2. Steven G. Allen, 1983. "How Much Does Absenteeism Cost?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 18(3), pages 379-393.
    3. Barmby, T A & Orme, C D & Treble, John G, 1991. "Worker Absenteeism: An Analysis Using Microdata," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(405), pages 214-229, March.
    4. Robert Drago & Mark Wooden, 1992. "The Determinants of Labor Absence: Economic Factors and Workgroup Norms across Countries," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 45(4), pages 764-778, July.
    5. Tim Barmby & Suzyrman Sibly, 2004. "Analysing absence behaviour using event history models," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(3), pages 141-145.
    6. Georges Dionne & Benoit Dostie, 2007. "New Evidence on the Determinants of Absenteeism Using Linked Employer-Employee Data," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 61(1), pages 108-120, October.
    7. Allen, Steven G, 1981. "An Empirical Model of Work Attendance," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 63(1), pages 77-87, February.
    8. Melvyn Coles & Joseph Lanfranchi & Ali Skalli & John Treble, 2007. "Pay, Technology, And The Cost Of Worker Absence," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 45(2), pages 268-285, April.
    9. Joseph Lanfranchi & John Treble, 2010. "Just-In-Time Production, Work Organization And Absence Control," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 78(5), pages 460-483, September.
    10. Bradley, Steve & Green, Colin & Leeves, Gareth, 2007. "Worker absence and shirking: Evidence from matched teacher-school data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 319-334, June.
    11. Natasha Caverley & J. Barton Cunningham & James N. MacGregor, 2007. "Sickness Presenteeism, Sickness Absenteeism, and Health Following Restructuring in a Public Service Organization," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(2), pages 304-319, March.
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    More about this item


    Time Allocation; absenteeism; Safety; Accidents; Industrial Health;

    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J28 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy

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