Community Health and Employee Work Performance in the American Manufacturing Environment

Megan McHugh*, Dustin D. French, Diane Farley, Claude R. Maechling, Dorothy D. Dunlop, Jane L. Holl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Although better community health has long been assumed to be good for local businesses, evidence demonstrating the relationship between community health and employee performance is quite limited. Drawing on human resources data on 6103 employees from four large US manufacturing plants, we found that employees living in counties with poor community health outcomes had considerably higher rates of absenteeism and tardiness (ABT). For example, in one company, employees living in communities with high rates of children on free or reduced lunch had higher rates of ABT compared to other employees [adjusted odds ratio (OR) 2.76, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.52–3.04], and employees living in communities with high rates of drug overdose deaths had higher rates of ABT (OR 1.51, 95% CI 1.29–1.77). In one plant, the annual value of lost wages due to ABT was over $1.3 million per year. Employees reported that poor community health (e.g., poverty, caregiving burdens, family dysfunction, drug use) resulted in “mental stress” leading to distraction, poor job performance, and more rarely, lapses in safety. These findings bolster the case for greater private sector investment in community health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)178-184
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Community Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 15 2019



  • Absenteeism
  • Case study
  • Community health
  • Manufacturing
  • Mixed methods
  • Public health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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