5 Ways Stress Hurts Employee Productivity (And How To Fight Back!)


94% of workers report feeling stress at work, and almost a third say their stress level is high to unsustainably high.¹ 25% say their current level of stress will lead them to burnout in less than a year.¹ 60% of people say they’ll still go to work, even when they know they won’t be their most productive self.³

The truth is… as a society, we glorify “the hustle.” Being busy and constantly on-the-go has become almost a moral badge of honor; especially for Millenials who have been repeatedly chastised for their entitlement and laziness. As a business and employer, it’s easy to fall into the trap of squeezing the most time and energy you can out of each employee. After all, you have an ROI to prove - right?

Below are 5 ways an all work, no play mentality might be causing your employees stress and hindering your profitability:

  1. Lower employee engagement levels

    Almost 50% of workers say workplace stress is making them “check out” ceasing to care about work. ¹ This greatly reduces their productivity and output. According to a recent study by Gallup, checked out employees cost companies $450 to $550 billion in lost productivity every year.²

  2. Degradation of team cohesion & company morale:

    About 30% of employees at <1000 employee companies, and 40% of 1000+ employee companies cite “Team members not pulling their weight on projects” as a top stressor at work.

    41% of employees cite poor internal communication as a top stressor at work. 29% of employees report having yelled at a co-worker because they’re stressed. 14% of employees report wanting to punch their co-workers! ¹

  3. Absenteeism & Presenteeism:

    Absenteeism: employees that miss work due to stress costs companies an average of 4 working days per employee per year in terms of productivity lost. ²

    Presenteeism: employees who show up (not at their peak) when they should take a “mental health day” cost companies an average of 57.5 working days (almost 2 full months) per employee per year in terms of productivity lost. ²

  4. Employee health is suffering:

    Mental health, which has long been a stigma in the workplace, is now becoming something that is more common and accepted by leaders. Now HR is taking on the role of mental health counselors, helping support employees who have all sorts of mental health issues like depression, anxiety, bipolar and ADHD. While many of these disorders are hidden, 84% of employees have experienced physical, psychological or behavioral symptoms of poor mental health. ³

  5. Higher Burnout Rates & Increased Turnover

    25% of workers said they will burn out in the next 12 months if they can’t reign in their stress levels1 and 33% of employees will leave their jobs each year by 2020.⁴

    77% of turnover is considered preventable by employers, with about 42% being attributed to a lack of attention from management on factors such as work-life balance, employee mental & physical wellness, poor internal communication, compensation and benefits.⁴

    The cost of replacing an employee averages 20% of their annual salary, and can range up to 216% for highly trained employees, so if a highly trained executive is making $120,000 a year, the true loss could be up to $255,600 to the company!

    Employers will pay $600 billion in turnover costs in 2018 and can expect that number to increase to $680 billion by 20204, unless they make a conscious effort to combat workplace stress and turnover.

A corporate focus on wellness makes dollars and sense...

While it can seem counterintuitive, a more balanced approach to work (as opposed to an “all work & no play” mentality) actually leads to higher productivity and profitability overall to the tune of a 3 to 1 return on investment!⁶

That’s $3 of productivity back for every $1 invested in the health and wellbeing of employees! There’s an opportunity to increase profits and the wages of our teams, all while improving their mental and physical health. But what kind of wellness programming should you invest in?

Here are our suggestions (and their scientifically backed benefits):  

  1. Meditation & Mindfulness Training has been clinically shown to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and pain (both physical and psychological). It’s also been linked to increased gray matter in the brain (in the areas associated with logic & reason), improved sleep (off the job of course!), improved memory, increased work efficiency (meditators are faster on all tasks), decreased urges to smoke (aka take extra breaks!), dramatically improved conflict resolution skills, and stronger interpersonal skills (leading to stronger professional and personal relationships). ⁷ ︲ 11

  2. Sound Therapy uses aspects of music to improve your physical and emotional health and well-being. In a session, commonly referred to as a “Sound Bath,” instruments like singing bowls, drums, gongs and chimes are often accompanied by guided meditation, aroma therapy, breathwork & more. Sound Therapy has proven in studies to positively affect our neurochemistry, promote feelings of well-being, and reduce stress, anger, depression, and fatigue.

  3. Aromatherapy is defined by Webster as “inhalation or bodily application (as by massage) of fragrant essential oils (as from flowers and fruits) for therapeutic purposes.” It’s been clinically shown to relieve anxiety and depression, improve quality of life, particularly for people with chronic health conditions, elevated stress, and insomnia. 9

  4. Communal Eating - those who eat socially (or communally) have been shown to feel happier and are more satisfied with life. They’re also more trusting of others, are more engaged with their local communities (both inside and outside the workplace), and have feel they have more people that they can depend on for support. 10

In her book Thrive: The Third Metric, Arianna Huffington wrote,

“We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in.”

And here at LAGL we agree with her. That’s why we work with companies to co-create wellness programs that fit their needs. From in-office meditations to fully-produced and catered community events, we work with our extended team of wellness specialists to curate experiences that cultivate mindfulness, self confidence, and improve employees overall wellbeing.

For more information, or to partner on your company’s wellness programming…

click here to schedule a call directly into the calendar of our co-founder, Justin.


1) Wrike, Brianna Hansen, “Crash and Burnout: Is Workplace Stress the New Normal?” (2018). Link:  

2) Gallup, “State of the American Workplace” (2017). Link: https://news.gallup.com/reports/178514/state-american-workplace.aspx

3) Deloitte, “At a Tipping Point? Workplace Mental Health and Wellbeing” (2017). Link: https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/uk/Documents/public-sector/deloitte-uk-workplace-mental-health-n-wellbeing.pdf

4) Work Institute, “2018 National Employee Retention Report” (2018), Link: https://workinstitute.com/about-us/news-events/articleid/2259/2018%20retention%20report

5) Center for American Progress, Heather Boushey and Sarah Jane Glynn, “There Are Significant Business Costs to Replacing Employees” (2012). Link: https://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/CostofTurnover.pdf

6)  PR Newswire, “Poor Health Costs U.S. Economy $576 Billion According to the Integrated Benefits Institute.” (2012). Link: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/poor-health-costs-us-economy-576-billion-according-to-the-integrated-benefits-institute-169460116.html.

7) National Institutes of Health, Hari Sharma “Meditation: Process and effects” (2015) Jul-Sep; 36(3): 233–237. doi:  [10.4103/0974-8520.182756] Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4895748/#ref7

8) Goldsby TL, et al. “Effects of singing bowl sound meditation on mood, tension, and well-being: An observational study” (2016) Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27694559

9) Mayo Clinic Report, Brent A. Bauer, M.D “What are the benefits of aromatherapy?” (2017), Link: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/aromatherapy/faq-20058566

10) Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology, Dunbar, R.I.M. “Breaking Bread: the Functions of Social Eating” (2017) 3: 198. Link: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40750-017-0061-4

11) Institute for Employment Studies, Andrea Broughton “The Benefits of Using Meditation to Resolve Workplace Conflict” (2014). Link:  https://www.employment-studies.co.uk/news/benefits-using-mediation-resolve-workplace-conflict