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This Is How Your Company Culture Is Hurting Your Team and the Bottom Line

Excessive work schedules, loneliness and the general stress of work and life combine to create a very anxious staff.

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Stressed out, tired and sick, your employees feel like they’re doing more and getting less. It's hurting them and costing you. We’ve all seen the stats -- 33 percent of all workers today are not engaged. They are working longer hours, and many feel misunderstood by their managers and disconnected from the mission of their organization.

Caiaimage | Paul Bradbury | Getty Images

In his recent book, "Dying for a Paycheck," Stanford professor Jeffrey Pfeffer shows toxic workplace cultures are leading to chronic illness and mortality. These findings were corroborated by Anna Nyberg at the Karolinska Institute, who showed that having a harsh boss is linked to heart problems in employees.

At the very least, these policies and a general lack of connection to work are turning staff into presenteeism drones -- those who come in (or not) to work long hours and often produce less. According to a study published last year by John Pencavel of , employee output decreases greatly after 50 hours and becomes somewhat non-existent after 55, with findings demonstrating that those who worked 70 hours had virtually the same output as those who worked 55. 

Related: Help Your Team Members Succeed (Especially When They're Tempted to Leave)

Recent data from OECD demonstrated this on a global scale. While the U.S. was consistently in the top 10 of most productive countries, it took us more time to achieve the same or similar outputs as most other countries on the list. Luxembourg led the list, producing almost twice as much as us, while working only 93 percent of the time.

Stressed out and looking elsewhere.

Excessive work schedules, loneliness and the general stress of work and life are all combining to create a very anxious staff. Employee mental health costs are on the rise, increasing at twice the rate of other medical expenses. It’s clear we’re at a tipping point for office culture and employee engagement. According to a Deloitte survey of worldwide, the majority of those surveyed in 19 out of 30 countries did not anticipate being happier than their parents.

Today, millennials are the largest generation in the workforce, and they are experiencing greater levels of stress than any other group. Add to the equation the record low and, more importantly, the fact that they are not afraid to ask for what they want and need, and you have the beginnings of some very concrete change in the workplace.  

Millennials are less willing to accept these sometimes harmful practices and are quicker to leave in this booming market. A Work Institute study estimated that 28.6 percent of employees will leave their jobs in 2018 and that nearly 77 percent, or three-fourths, of that turnover, could have been prevented by their employers. The cost of these turnovers to employers is an incredible $600 billion, and that figure is estimated to rise to $680 billion by 2020.

Related: 3 Ways Your Company Can Integrate Multiple Generations and Engage Millennials

The cure.

So what does it really take to make and keep today’s workforce happy and productive? In this competitive job market, employers need to understand and do a better job of acknowledging the preferences and expectations of their staff. Though the majority of employee turnover is preventable, the best-intended programs aren’t enough if they don’t address your staff’s issues.

The days of slogging out a dead-end job for a pension and health insurance are gone. The fact that both of those things no longer exist, as well as the rise of the gig , have ensured that. It’s clear employers can do much more to increase staff loyalty to their work and the company by creating an environment that demonstrates that you care about employee well-being and personal development. 

Among the Work Institute Study findings was that the majority of respondents weren’t looking for a pay raise. In fact, compensation and benefits were fifth on the overall list, tied with relocation. Not surprisingly, the top four drivers of staff leaving were related to some of the most basic human needs, like belonging, esteem and self-actualization. Here are the top drivers:

  • Career development.  While we all know there is no such thing as a perfect job, the more people are able to craft their jobs around their passions and reach or aspire to reach their potential, the happier they are likely to be.
  • Work-life balance. People are seeking more flexible schedules, shorter commute times and remote work situations to optimize time with family and/or other non-work activities. 
  • Manager behavior. The ability to manage staff well has been overlooked, often at the expense of their experience and development. Today, employers have to ensure that managers are well-trained or risk losing their high potentials to companies better able to create the environment they expect.
  • Well-being. While only fourth on the list, this is likely to move up as millennials begin to age, have families and/or health problems. As more and more people prioritize their health and well-being and that of their family, it’s critical that employers acknowledge and address the issues employees face or risk losing them to another company more willing to accommodate their needs.

Related: Working More Doesn't Mean You're Being More Productive 

While every company and culture is unique, it’s clear that the basic things that motivate and engage people are similar. At our core, we desire to be our best. Whether it's in our professional objectives to grow and advance our career or our personal desires to feel and be our best both at work and at home, we seek the means and support to do so. If your isn’t prepared and able to help your staff to do that, then you better be prepared for employees to leave.

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