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April 25, 2024 · By Dr. Tim Church, MD, MPH, PHD, Wondr Chief Medical Officer

Three ways stress is impacting your organization 

Mental health WondrTips Workplace Engagement

Dr. Tim Church, MD, MPH, PHD, Wondr Health Chief Medical Officer dives into recent Wondr Health survey results, demonstrating the profound impact of stress on our workforce

Stress impacts more than just our bodies—it significantly influences the health and productivity of our organizations. While some stress is actually good for you, striking the right balance is a challenge we all face— we are constantly walking a fine line between embracing healthy stress and being downright stressed-out.  

Recently, Wondr Health conducted a survey with more than 6,000 respondents to learn more about the impact of stress on overall well-being and weight-management. The results are telling: 24.3% respondents eat more unhealthy foods and beverages, 18.4% struggle with sleep, and 16.5% reduce their physical activity due to stress.  

In isolation, none of these are great habits. But what’s more alarming is the top three results, compounded together, put your population at higher risk for developing physical and mental health related chronic conditions, like overweight and obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression. We asked participants to share with us the ways that stress impacts their ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle: 

The results point to three major ways that stress is impacting the health of your population and organization:  

  1. Is ‘stress’ significant in your workplace culture? 

Whether you realize it now or later, stress rapidly multiplies – if one member of your team is feeling the negative effects of stress, you likely have a culture that not only normalizes stress but cultivates it. Results from our survey reveal 15.3% of respondents have less energy, 8.5% struggle with focus at work, and a 1% increase in absenteeism—all indicators of how stress is affecting the daily atmosphere and the workplace culture. 

  1. Performance and productivity take a hit 

Peak performance hinges on brain health, which is deeply connected to sleep and nutrition. Research indicates that a minimum of 7 hours of sleep nightly is crucial for optimal brain function. However, stress often disrupts sleep patterns, creating a cycle that’s hard to break. 

Additionally, 24.3% of respondents reported consuming more unhealthy foods and beverages, while 15.5% ate larger portions when stressed. Such dietary changes can lead to brain inflammation, reduced learning capacity, and fewer new neurons being generated. 

  1. Less movement, more stress 

Physical activity is one of the best ways to relieve stress, yet, based on our survey results, 16.5% of respondents move less when they experience stress – which often leads to more stress and/or weight gain  

It is critical for organizations to provide employees tools that help regulate and manage stress effectively. Resources that foster protective behaviors like prioritizing physical activity, healthy eating habits and getting ample sleep can create a more resilient workforce, ultimately boosting productivity and overall employee well-being.

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