Leadership in Action – Is Your Culture Killing Your Employees?

silhouette of plant during sunset

The baby boomer invention and desire to be workaholics is a failed experiment. While a certain amount of stress creates healthy engagement, a workplace that pushes that envelope to distress creates burnout, disengagement and employee turnover, all having a negative impact on the bottom line. As leaders, we need an understanding of how to create a culture with a healthy balance of expectations of goal achievement, while creating and supporting wellbeing.


An HBR article, “Proof That Positive Cultures Are More Productive,” demonstrates that high stress cultures have a significant impact on costs, performance and the bottom line.

  • Nearly 80% of workplace accidents can be link to job stress.
  • Disengagement caused by ineffective cultures is linked to an 18% reduction in productivity and 16% reduction in profitability.
  • These high stress cultures reduce loyalty and increase employee turnover by 50%.
  • “Toxic, stress-filled workplaces affect social relationships and, consequently, life expectancy.”[1]


While there clearly are costs to unhealthy cultures, the investment in wellbeing has a nearly 300% return. A recent article, published by McKinsey & Company, showed that for every dollar spent on wellness programs, organizations realized a $3.27 reduction in healthcare costs and $2.73 reduction in cost of absenteeism.[2]

This Leadership Strategies blog is focused on developing healthy positive cultures that result in an engaged and productive workforce, so all previous posts will help. This post and the five to follow will focus specifically on creating wellbeing within your team, and your organization as a whole. The PERMA model provides a framework for you, as a leader, to positively impact the wellbeing of yourself and your team. PERMA was first put forward by Dr. Martin Seligman as a framework for wellbeing3. It is also a key component of our Mindsetting for Well-Being and Performance® program. PERMA is defined as:

  • Positive emotion
  • Engagement
  • Relationships
  • Meaning
  • Accomplishments

Each of the following five posts will look at these aspects of PERMA. As a leader, when you Nurture Growth through engaging your team to balance their goal accomplishment while supporting their wellbeing, you not only increase their engagement, you increase the productivity of your entire team.

[1] Seppälä, Emma and Cameron, Kim “Proof That Positive Work Cultures Are More Productive”, Harvard Business Review, December, 2015.
[2] Brassey, Jacqueline; Günter, Anna; Isaak, Karina and Silberzahn, Tobias “Using digital tech to support employee mental health and resilience” McKinsey & Company, July 8, 2021
3 Seligman, M. (2011). Flourish. New York, NY: Free Press