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The Value of Workplace Well-Being


Imagine this: it’s a Monday morning and you’re at your office. You’re a small business owner with a midsize (yet mighty) team—but a few of your employees are starting to worry you.

Your assistant seems to be scattered, unprepared, and chronically late on project deadlines. Another team member calls out again with little explanation.

Meanwhile, your customers are calling, and it falls on you to pick up the slack.

As someone in a leadership role, this can be frustrating—you rely on your team to show up and do their best. Many workers, however, face chronic overwhelm, stress, and mental health challenges, which can impact their job performance.

Sometimes the issues come from the work environment, and sometimes an employee clocks in with their own challenges from home.

Either way, fatigue, burnout, and other mental health matters can complicate the workplace, leading to more burnout, worker turnover, an unhealthy work culture, and major financial losses over time.

Is there something employers can do to help struggling staff?

The Cost of Workplace Stress: A Research Study

A 2022 study recorded Central New York workplace leaders’ perceptions of mental health programs and employee productivity (Bennett et al. 2022).

One of the researchers is Dr. Joel Bennett of Organizational Wellness & Learning Systems (OWLS) and another is LEAF’s executive director, Julie Dostal. This study is especially helpful for local businesses because it targeted our specific location.

The research team identified several factors that could impact employees’ performance, including:

  • burnout and stress,
  • poor physical health,
  • mental health concerns,
  • fatigue and sleep issues,
  • alcohol use,
  • and drug use.

The study targeted managers, supervisors, and other senior staff from various industries in our region.

Researchers surveyed business leaders on the perceived impact of these issues—and the possibility of multiple “exposures” (for example, both burnout and substance use).

Business leaders reported that burnout and stress had the highest impact on productivity. Fatigue had the second-highest impact.

The employees’ mental health struggles also affected their superiors—the leaders surveyed in the study reported that thirty-nine percent of the senior staff’s own productivity was lost due to the factors mentioned above.

To put it into dollars and cents, the researchers calculated average annual losses of $9.6 million for small businesses and $171 million for larger companies related to mental health factors.

Mental Health Program Availability at Work

The workplace study by Bennett et al. (2022) also assessed the mental health programs available to employees at the companies surveyed—and whether a company’s leaders were aware of such programs.

They found that in workplaces with fewer than one hundred employees, fifty-two percent of those employers had no mental health programs in place.

This is significant—the researchers noted that smaller companies “appeared more vulnerable” to the effects of employees’ mental health, even though larger companies bore a greater monetary cost. The smaller companies experienced more loss from fewer mental health exposures.

The study also found that more mental health programs were available to employees at companies with over one hundred employees. Only sixteen percent offered no mental health programs, with a majority of companies (forty-one percent) offering two or three programs.

Types of Mental Health Programs Businesses Can Provide

The workplace study noted several different types of mental health programs. A few examples included:

  • depression and stress coaching or counseling;
  • communication, team building, and soft skills development;
  • education on health promotion with substance use prevention;
  • alcohol and other drug use assessment and feedback;
  • anti-stigma campaigns for recovery-friendly workplaces;
  • manager trainings on stress;
  • positive resilience and thriving programs;
  • mind-body practices;
  • and education on sleep habits.

The study found that businesses could significantly cut the costs of lost productivity by using these mental health programs.


How Businesses Can Get Started with Wellness Training

All companies (no matter the size) can benefit from mental health programs for employees. The study emphasized small businesses (under one hundred employees)—these companies could see the most benefit from these programs.

At LEAF, we value mental health care, and we can help your company put these beneficial programs in place. Through a program called “Team Awareness NY,” managers and business owners can choose from a variety of wellness trainings to support a healthy work culture.

Read more about our workplace wellness trainings here or contact us at (607) 432-0090 for more information.


Bennett, Joel B., Aldrich Chan, Adrian Abellanoza, Rachel Bhagelai, Jen Gregory, Julie Dostal, and Jennifer Faringer. 2022. “More Vulnerable, More to Gain? A Pilot Study of Leader’s Perceptions of Mental Health Programs and Costs in Small Workplaces.” American Journal of Health Promotion 36 (7): 1223–28.

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