The Harvard Business Review published an article: Proof That Postive Work Cultures are More Productive? by Emma Seppälä and Kim Cameron in 2015 stating that ‘The American Psychological Association estimates that more than $500 billion is siphoned off from the U.S. economy because of workplace stress, and 550 million workdays are lost each year due to stress on the job.’ A widening array of research is showing that people are literally getting physically sick by being employees.
What was most interesting is that the evidence points less to material gains as an indicator to work satisfaction but rather gains in individual emotional growth such as respect, inspiration, and interpersonal connection. These internal engagements and psychological benefits cost nothing and yet the level of workplace stress in the U.S. continues to climb – maybe even to the point of tipping as our internal struggles as a culture impact future generations who will enter the workforce one day soon (1 in 5 US adolescents is prediabetic).
For most people their work is what they base much of their lives around spending at least time in the 8 to 5 at the office or in some other form of employment – commuting to those jobs and setting up their mornings and evenings to support a full day’s work. If we are spending so much attention to the standard work week – what can employers do to help?
It could start with wellness and mindfulness programs that are heavily influenced around mind-body benefits such as yoga, tai chi, or qi gong. Again, a mounting stack of research is showing that a proactive wellness initiative in the workplace is highly cost effective at reducing medical expenditures. In widening and widening circles we may see that the micro influence of individual companies will start to impact our larger economy and even the future of our world and nation. It may be time for employees to influence what they seek in their employers: asking for corporate cultural balance, emphasis on health, and emotional stability to be on the punch list along with the salary, 401k, and monetary criteria.