Case Zorg Aan Zet

Zorg aan Zet

Workability in the health care of Limburg

Status project WAI / Workability

In 2010, employers’ Association ‘Zorg aan Zet’ initiated the WAI / Workability project in the health care of Limburg. In the period 2011-2012, the work ability index (WAI) was set to use in ± 18 institutions with a total of approximately 15,000 employees. The data collection is executed by Preventned. The research group Work and Health of the Department of Public Health at Erasmus MC has been asked to make a detailed analysis of the causes and consequences of workability.

Here you will find a summary of the standings:


For the study, the following questions were formulated:

  • What is the workability of employees in the health care of Limburg?
  • What are the consequences of a reduced workability for work absenteeism, lost productivity during work and medical consumption?
  • What are the consequences of a reduced workability for internal and external mobility?
  • What is the relative contribution of lifestyle factors to a reduced workability?
  • What is the relative contribution of physical and psychosocial workload to a reduced workability?

Workability and health outcome

  1. In 22% there is a reduced workability
  2. 20% of the participants assess their own health as “less than good”.
  3. There is a clear link between a reduced workability, decreased perceived health and care consumption.

Possible consequences of a reduced workability

  1. A reduced work capacity is associated with a decreased labor productivity at work.
  2. Employees with reduced work capacity are more likely to intend to change jobs or leave the health sector.

For this interim report there were only data from cross-sectional studies available, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect. By repeating the measurements of workability, there are ways to measure changes over time and to understand cause and effect with respect to a reduced workability.

Possible determinants of workability

  1. A reduced workability is more common in older workers and workers with low educational attainment.
  2. (Heavy) overweight, and to a lesser extent, a lack of physical activity and inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption are associated with a reduced workability.
  3. There is a strong correlation between adverse physical and psychosocial work factors with reduced work capacity.
  4. The balance between work and private life, as well the appreciation received by employees from the organization and clients are closely related to the workability.

Promoting workability

Important factors to promote work ability:

  • Lifestyle: Stimulating adequate physical activity, healthy diet and (the maintenance of) a healthy weight.
  • Work-related factors: Variety in work, work in non-stressful postures, and having sufficient control and development opportunities.
  • Organizational factors: Clarity on organizational goals and the contribution of staff to it, executives who provide feedback and motivate staff, attention to the balance between work and private life, appreciation from leadership.

With this there are a number of challenges for practice and policy. Effective interventions are needed for (older) workers and employees with functional limitations to have a meaningful participation in the labor market. Both general and individual-based interventions must be developed for this. In addition to developing effective interventions, there is need for scientific substantiation of tools for a proper diagnosis and prognosis of workability and employability.


Duco is director of Preventned and as senior advisor he supports companies and institutions within the framework of working capital and primary processes. He is responsible for the day to day businesses