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Job quality, health and at-work productivity


  • Iris Arends
  • Christopher Prinz
  • Femke Abma


Many countries invest considerable resources into promoting employment and the creation of jobs. At the same time, policies and institutions still pay relatively little attention to the quality of jobs although job quality has been found to be a major driver of employee wellbeing and may be an important factor for work productivity. Eventually, job quality might also influence labour supply choices and lead to higher employment. Providing robust evidence for the relationship between job quality and worker productivity could make a strong case for labour market policies directed at the improvement of job quality. This paper reviews existing evidence on the relationship between the quality of the work environment and individual at-work productivity, defined as reduced productivity while at work, and assesses the effect of health on this relationship.After screening 2 319 studies from various fields and disciplines, including economics and medicine, 48 studies are reviewed. Strong evidence is found for a negative relationship between job stress or job strain and individual at-work productivity and for a positive relationship between job rewards and productivity. Moderate evidence is found for a negative relationship between work-family conflict and at‑work productivity and for a positive relationship between fairness at work and social support from co-workers and productivity. Health influences the relationship between the quality of the work environment and productivity. Specifically, the relationship is stronger for people in good health.Job quality needs a more prominent place in labour market policy. More attention needs to be paid to workers’ perceptions of the quality of their work environment and how policies and practices at both the level of the worker and the work environment may influence this. Furthermore, as health‑related factors significantly influence the relationship between job quality and productivity, multidisciplinary approaches are needed to support at‑work productivity.

Suggested Citation

  • Iris Arends & Christopher Prinz & Femke Abma, 2017. "Job quality, health and at-work productivity," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 195, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:elsaab:195-en

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    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
    • J8 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards

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