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Recently I was talking with a friend who is also a psychiatrist.  He commented to me that soon stress and depression would become the major source of workplace disability.  I told him,  "You do not need to wait.  Stress and depression are the number one source of disability in the United States right now."

Stress and depression combined cost the American economy 88 billion dollars in treatment costs and lost work time.  This includes treatment expense and lost time from work.  But these are only the direct costs. 

This is the bad news.  It is news bad enough that organizations ignore it at their own peril.

Now for some good news:

What if you could increase your retention rates by 50%, AND, increase your productivity by the 38%, AND increase customer satisfaction scores by 44%? Would you be interested?

The secret formula is to inject the Vitamin C’s of Emotional Health into your workplace.

At a recent conference, I asked the audience to share the qualities of the best workplace environment they had experienced. It was not surprising to me that every quality they named was an aspect of the Vitamin C’s . There are four essential Vitamin C’s: 1.) Commitment, 2.) Challenge, 3.) Control, and 4.) Caring. 


We have a need to belong to something larger than ourselves. The poet and business consultant, David Whyte says, "Anything or anyone who does not bring you alive is too small." Great leaders have understood that people will make enormous sacrifices for a cause in which they believe. By contrast, working at a task that an individual considers meaningless or insignificant can be demoralizing and saps energy.

Top performers and innovative thinkers live in a world that is full of meaning. They use their commitment to meaningful work to fuel their motivation. Motivation arises from deep within their souls. This is scary for some managers because it is not subject to external control and cannot be commanded. In an emotionally healthy workplace, organizations must nurture the conditions for meaningful work.

Tip: Stand for something important and encourage others in your workplace to do the same. 


For most of us, an essential ingredient of a valued workplace is the opportunity to stretch and exercise our talents. In an emotionally healthy workplace, we are able to gain knowledge and skill that help us to improve and grow. This is an inherently pleasant experience for humans.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of "Flow", tracked individual experience and discovered that more people reported feeling dull and lethargic when they were watching television than when they were fully engaged at work. In challenging and stimulating work environments, people were happier and more energetic.

The desire to grow and improve is one of the most frequently mentioned reasons for a productive employee to pursue a new job. 

Tip: Reward employees willing to attempt to solve problems, even if they make mistakes along the way.


t is very unpleasant and anxiety provoking to experience our lives as being out of our control. In a classic study (dubbed the "Executive Monkey" study) by Robert Yerkes of Yale, he demonstrated that monkeys who were able to control electric shocks (i.e., turn off the shocks via access to a lever) were far less likely to get ulcers than monkeys who received exactly the same number and intensity of shocks who were not in control. The ability to have control in our work is critical to well being. Why would anyone commit to a job or accept challenges that resulted in a loss of control?

The problem for many of us is that we attempt to gain control over our lives in very ineffective ways. It is not possible to control every aspect of our environment, but in the emotionally healthy workplace there is opportunity to have control over critical aspects of work.

Tip: Give workers time to plan and organize on the job. 


Social support is an important aspect of a healthy work environment. In the healthiest of workplaces, people enjoy one another and support each other. The power of the work team, when it is effective, is in drawing on each member’s strengths while compensating for each other’s weaknesses. This combination creates the conditions for the type of environment that fosters productive and innovative work.

Loyalty and a willingness to sacrifice are based on personal relationships. People are reluctant to pledge allegiance to an abstract principle or a faceless organizational entity. We need personal relationships.

Tip: Get to know employees as whole persons, not only for the roles they assume in the company.

To learn more about the emotionally healthy workplace, order my booklet: 41 Ways to Improve the Emotional Health of Your Workplace.  For information about ordering, CLICK HERE.

Call (262) 789-2728 or email jweaver@psychologyforbusiness.com to have Dr. John Weaver speak to your organization about establishing an emotionally healthy workplace.