The Impact of Self-Care on Company Culture

By: Kelsey Schurer, Director of Stories and Learning in Company Culture, Psychological Safety

Imagine this: it’s Monday morning and Alex, a bright, dedicated employee, is staring at a screen full of unread emails. With a busy week ahead, stress is already creeping in. Each task feels like an uphill climb, and despite having a steaming cup of coffee in hand, there’s a noticeable lack of energy in her disposition. Recently, Alex has been feeling disconnected, with productivity levels at a low ebb. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Alex’s story is a common narrative among most organizations. Why? There’s a critical element missing in the workplace, and it’s not a stronger coffee blend or a more organized to-do list—it’s self-care.

We often spend so much energy focusing on external elements like work, relationships, and daily responsibilities that we sometimes overlook the most important part of the equation—ourselves. Self-care, the practice of taking time to tend to our personal well-being, is a critical factor often underestimated in its impact on company culture and success.

The Impact of Self-Care on Company Culture

According to a study conducted by the American Psychological Association in 2021, over half of the working adults in America said they felt disconnected from their work due to stress, and 40 percent reported struggling with basic work functions. These numbers, although unsettling, serve as a wakeup call, illuminating the direct link between individual well-being and workplace performance.

Before we dive any deeper into the data, let’s take a moment to clarify what self-care actually means. It isn’t solely about spa days or indulgent treats. At its core, self-care is about ensuring you’re physically, emotionally, and mentally in the best possible place. This includes all the things our bodies naturally need—a balanced diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep—alongside all the nurturing our minds and hearts crave, like deepening our relationships, honoring our boundaries by saying “no” to overburdening tasks, or reaching out for a supportive conversation with a friend or colleague.

Now perhaps you are wondering, “How can my personal self-care practices affect my company’s culture?” The answer lies within the profound impact personal well-being can have on professional performance.

Promoting self-care at the workplace can significantly decrease stress and burnout levels, leading to more satisfied, resilient, and high-performing employees. Research conducted by the Harvard Business Review found that companies that encourage a culture of health and well-being outperform the S&P 500 Index by a whopping 235 percent over a six-year period. Clearly healthy and happy employees drive innovation, engagement, and a positive work culture.

A positive work culture, in turn, boosts company morale, enhances productivity, and fosters a sense of belonging among employees, because a company doesn’t function just on policies and procedures; it thrives on the well-being and satisfaction of its employees. In essence, when employees are encouraged to prioritize self-care, they bring their best selves to work.

Promoting Self-Care within the Culture

Because self-care is a personal journey that looks different for everyone, there needs to be a holistic approach within organizations that gives employees the freedom and resources to care for their unique needs. Organizations have the opportunity to promote various wellness programs—from after-work yoga to storytelling hour—as well as flexible work schedules and mental health days. Perhaps what’s most important is simply fostering an open dialogue about the team’s well-being.

Leaders, too, must practice self-care. What kind of message does it send when the company is preaching to its employees to implement self-care practices, and yet the leaders of the organization do not take part in the promoted wellness programs, take a mental health day, or accommodate flexibility in work schedules (among other options)? Impact begins at the top and works its way down. Leaders set the standard. If a leader works weekends, sends off emails at midnight without checking in and communicating with their employees how this is perceived, then the leader is potentially sending a message to their employees: my self-care doesn’t matter, therefore your self-care doesn’t matter.

When companies place value on self-care, they communicate a powerful message to their employees: “We care about you as a human being.” This not only helps employees feel valued and respected but also builds a culture of empathy, trust, and psychological safety—the foundational pillars of a courageous company.

Let’s return to the story of Alex, our hardworking employee. Once the company began implementing self-care practices and opened a dialogue on the importance of taking time to tend to one’s well-being, Alex recognized the lack of self-care in her own life. She started applying small but impactful changes. Early morning meditation, balanced meals, and adequate sleep became part of her personal routine. She also partook in the wellness opportunities offered alongside her team, including learning about herself through a purpose workshop, deepening her soft skills with an online course on better communication, and participating in a game of Vulnerability is Sexy.

The result? Not only did Alex notice a significant boost in energy and mood, but her contributions to the team skyrocketed, she was more easily able to voice her creative ideas, and therefore the overall engagement within the team improved. While perhaps a less common narrative than we’re used to, this story isn’t a fairytale. It’s not only possible, but probable, if a company is willing to invest in its company culture.

Self-care extends beyond the individual and touches every aspect of a company’s culture. Whether you’re an executive, manager, or a team member like Alex, your well-being matters, and it has the power to transform not just your life, but your work and the culture of your organization, and maybe . . . even the world.

Numbers for the Data-Driven Mind

Personal Well-Being Fuels Professional Performance
The American Psychological Association reported in 2021 that over half of working adults in America felt disconnected from their work due to stress, with 40 percent struggling with basic work functions. Through self-care, employees can reduce stress and burnout, enabling higher productivity, resilience, and engagement, thereby fostering a more positive work culture.

The Link Between Self-Care and Company Success
A study by Harvard Business Review found that companies promoting a culture of health and well-being outperform the S&P 500 Index by 235 percent over a six-year period. By encouraging self-care, companies empower employees to bring their best selves to work, leading to increased morale, enhanced productivity, and a stronger sense of community among team members.

The Power of an Empathetic and Respectful Culture
According to a report by Gallup, companies with high employee engagement scores show 23 percent higher profitability. When companies communicate that they care about their employees beyond their professional contributions, they build a culture of empathy, trust, and mutual respect. This not only makes employees feel valued but also forms the backbone of a thriving organization.

Based on the data, there is undeniably the need to nurture self-care practices both at an individual and organizational level. This is a tangible reminder that taking care of employees leads to better business outcomes.