workplace culture

The Link Between Productivity, Workplace Culture, and Health

Every manager wants to create a productive and enjoyable environment for their employees. However, the current corporate culture is causing significant problems for workers in ways that are negatively impacting health. The workplace culture is taking a big toll on employees across the globe and this causes both problems for a company’s productivity and the general well-being of individuals, according to an interview conducted by writer Dylan Walsh for Fast Company.

“We are harming both company performance and individual well-being, and this needs to be the clarion call for us to stop. There is too much damage being done,” said Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Currently, companies have been decreasing the amount of good health insurance for their employees throughout the United States while people tend to work longer hours and have less time to spend with family or personal hobbies. Below we outline exactly how the workplace culture has led to general illness and chronic diseases among the population.

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The Link between Disease and Workplace Culture

There have been various experts that have found a link between the stress seen in the workplace and the chronic diseases that many workers are afflicted with. For example, Robert Chapman, CEO of Barry-Wehmiller, has outlined how the corporate world has led to the healthcare crisis seen in developed countries today.

Chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular or circulatory conditions have the greatest cost burden in the healthcare industry, explained Professor Pfeffer. These type of conditions come from overeating, abusing drugs and/or alcohol, and leading a sedentary lifestyle. Yet, these type of factors are linked directly to stress, which comes from the workplace culture seen in many companies.

“There is a large amount of data that suggests the biggest source of stress is the workplace,” said Pfeffer. “[Corporations] are the source of stress, stress causes chronic disease, and chronic disease is the biggest component of our ongoing and enormous health care costs.”

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The Impact of Social Pollution within the Workplace

How does the workplace culture lead to such severe stress that it causes illness among the workforce? The problems lie in a general trend toward “social pollution,” explains Pfeffer. This term was coined by Professor Nuria Chinchilla and it entails many factors such as more layoffs, longer hours spent in the office, conflicts between work and family life, and significant economic insecurity.

Today, the wage growth has been staying still and more workers are facing economic insecurity while fewer people are covered by company-sponsored health insurance. The costs of doctor visits and medications has been growing and, while wages have been stagnant, fewer people are obtaining much needed healthcare.

The longer hours that employers are requiring of their workers is leading to more problems among workers due to the breakup of their family life. This has led to issues such as lacking time to raise children and potential challenges with maintaining strong marriages. The breakup of the family makes social support decline and hurts society as a whole.

Essentially, along with the physical health problems that the corporate world contributes toward, the social pollution of the workplace is also something to avoid. Managers will need to work toward reducing the problems associated with social pollution at their companies.

While many corporations have begun to strive toward being environmentally-friendly and protecting the air and water from pollution, the same cannot be said for maintaining good working relations with their employees. According to Professor Pfeffer, too many corporations today are harming their workers and it should not be tolerated.

Many people argue that workers who are not happy with their workplace culture should move onto other jobs. However, finding a job in itself is more work and many employees are already burned out from the stress their company puts on them. Many also have felt their self-esteem plummet due to the stress businesses put on employees with the expectation that they need to work harder and provide better and better results.

Workers often end up feeling inadequate in terms of landing a better job due to a toxic work environment. Many also start to believe their purpose in life is to work harder to achieve more goals since other coworkers around them are working those long hours and achieving more than them. Pfeffer claims that one of the ways that this type of toxic work environment can be changed is through lawsuits that prove certain companies are literally killing their employees or causing illnesses.

“[Similar] to the lawsuits that were filed against tobacco companies, some companies are killing their workers,” Pfeffer explained. “People have been harmed. If I had to bet on how this will change, some company is going to get sued, some lawyer will win an enormous award, and that will open the floodgates.”

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Why Managers Should Avoid Presenteeism in the Workplace

Managers and employers will need to learn the importance of preventing the problems of a toxic work environment. The sheer amount of stress has led to serious health problems among workforces around the globe.

In addition, people who are sick often still come to work and are much less productive due to their illness. This type of process is called presenteeism in which people are physically at work but are paying little attention to what they are actually doing. This leads to a true loss of workdays in which people have severe psychological stress and illness that prevents them from being productive. Furthermore, this leads to even higher healthcare costs.

Pfeffer cites one survey in which 7 percent of respondents were hospitalized due to mental health issues and 50 percent had taken days off from work due to stress. Others are also quitting these more stressful jobs and this is causing a general negative effect on business costs.

These problems need to be solved on a grander scale and there are a number of ways managers can create a more positive workplace culture.

Key Steps toward Improving the Workplace Culture

In order to improve the workplace culture and create a more positive way to align workers’ needs with general productivity, it is vital to look at the type of companies that are succeeding in terms of happiness among their staff.

One such company is Google, which has been named as the top tech company for workplace culture by Forbes. Both Glassdoor and Fortune have named Google as one of the best corporations to work for. The benefits from Google have been greatly desired by employees worldwide. How has Google achieved this type of recognition?

First, this company incorporates the importance of a strong work-life balance and provides their staff with creative freedoms. Essentially, workers are given the space and freedom to work on their projects while being provided with every resource they need. This creates more happiness and greater productivity in the long-term.

Employees have greater ability to work around their schedule and embrace a better work-life balance. For example, employees are allowed to bring their dogs to work and have a chance to enjoy time off.

Engaging and motivating employees in the workplace also leads to happier and more productive staff at a company. The way to better engage workers can be accomplished by providing strong leadership such as a more compassionate and empathetic manager. Employees are more engaged when their supervisor displays authentic and dignified qualities as well as “holds others accountable, leads with integrity, and shows empathy,” according to a report about employee engagement.

Obtaining employee feedback is also useful in improving workplace culture and helping enhance decision-making processes. Incorporating new technologies that allow employees to share their concerns could go a long way toward boosting engagement. Workers would feel more vital in the workplace when their feedback is being heard and this should lead to greater productivity overall.

When attempting to create an engaging work environment, you will want to consider the importance of developing a culture of ownership. Creating a culture of ownership entails having employees who take the initiative to accomplish specific goals and come up with new ideas on their own. This may include reducing micromanaging processes and improving communication between supervisors and workers.

Innovative Technology May Improve a Stressful Work Environment

One of the biggest problems that employees have today is an inadequate work-life balance, long commutes to and from work, and not enough time spent in the home with family. However, the right time management software could go a long way toward allowing employees to set their own schedules and work from home when needed.

Time management software such as can be used on multiple mobile devices, which means employees can potentially work outdoors on their front porch or check in after dropping their kids off at soccer practice.

The time tracking tools on the software program allows team members to measure how much time is spent on a project and ensure they are meeting their deadlines.

Additionally, each team leader and member has a customizable dashboard to use for each project in order to keep track of relevant metrics. For instance, those looking to determine how many revisions a document went through can have free access through the dashboard. To see whether time management software is the best option for you, check out the free trial by clicking here.

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