Sickness absence is a prominent issue on today’s working life. Researchers seem to agree that adverse psychosocial work environment is a central precursor of employee sickness absence, but there is still no consensus on which factors seem to have most effect and how strong the effects actually are. In order to gain useful knowledge about the complex associations between unfavorable work environment and sickness absence, assessment tools of high quality should be of high priority. However, the employee surveys used in organizations today have been argued to vary greatly in regards to their quality. The purpose of the present study was to investigate if an actual employee survey can provide information on the associations between psychosocial work factors and sickness absence. Thus, the study was based on an already existing employee survey conducted in a Norwegian county council in 2012. Unexpectedly, none of the psychosocial work factors were found to have effects on employees’ sickness absence, neither when studying the whole study sample (N=3628) nor the subsample consisting of the employees who specifically reported their absence to be work-related (N=363). Despite the potential shortcomings of the current survey, the study findings were concluded to be important as they imply that the understanding of the potential effects of psychosocial work factors on sickness absence still seem to be rather limited.
Keywords: sickness absence; psychosocial work environment; psychosocial work factors; employee survey