- A growing body of research on positive organizational psychology is saying that a high-stress, cutthroat culture is actively bad for productivity – and that a positive environment is a definite plus for employers and the bottom line, according to the Harvard Business Review.
- At high-pressure companies, healthcare expenditures are almost 50% greater than at other, less intense companies, HBR said. Additionally, the American Psychological Association estimates that the American economy loses over $500 billion and 550 billion workdays from workplace stress each year.
- HBR drills down three costs that overall can detract from a high-stress organization: The already mentioned cost of healthcare, the cost of disengagement, and the cost of the lack of loyalty. They also outline four ways to encourage your workplace to ease these burdens.
First of all, the “stress of belonging to hierarchies itself” is linked to disease and higher medical burden, HBR said. One study showed that the lower a person was in the hierarchy, the higher the chance of heart disease and death from heart attacks.
“Stress-producing bosses are literally bad for the heart,” the article notes.
While a culture of fear can produce short-term results, over the long haul it tends to stunt engagement. Studies note that engagement in work is associated with feeling “valued, secure, supported and respected” – something not often found in an environment predicated on fear and cutthroat behavior, HBR says.
Additionally, a lack of loyalty leads to sharply increased voluntary turnover rates – as high as 50% – and the costs to replace those who leave “are significant.”
Four ways such a culture can be prevented include: Foster social connections, show empathy, go out of your way to help, and encourage people to talk to you, especially about their problems.