PsychologyToday

Managers often mistakenly think that putting pressure on employees will increase performance. What it does increase is stress—and research has shown that high levels of stress carry a number of costs to employers and employees alike.

Stress brings high health care and turnover costs. In a study of employees from various organizations, health care expenditures for employees with high levels of stress were 46 percent greater than at similar organizations without high levels of stress. In particular, workplace stress has been linked to coronary heart disease in retrospective (observing past patterns) and prospective (predicting future patterns) studies. Then there’s the impact on turnover: 52 percent of employees report that workplace stress has led them to look for a new job, decline a promotion, or leave a job.

But there’s a different way. A new field of research is suggesting that when organizations promote an ethic of compassion rather than a culture of stress, they may not only see a happier workplace but also an improved bottom line.

Consider the important—but often overlooked—issue of workplace culture. Whereas a lack of bonding within the workplace has been shown to increase psychological distress, positive social interactions at work have been shown to boost employee health—for example, by lowering heart rate and blood pressure, and by strengthening the immune system.

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Dr. Emma Seppala

Associate Director at CCARE
Emma Seppala is the Associate Director at CCARE as well as a Research Scientist and Honorary Fellow with the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Investigating Healthy Minds. Her areas of expertise are health psychology, well-being, and resilience. She has examined the impact of meditation on happiness, social connection, and compassion.