High-stress jobs where employees have little freedom

high stress jobHigh-stress jobs where employees have little freedom can send them to an early grave – but farmers are happiest

  • People with stressful jobs, little control over decisions more likely to die
  • These employees are also more likely to have higher body mass index
  • Manufacturing, entry level service, construction linked to higher deaths
  • Study says allowing employees to set their own goals can reduce risks

A new study has found evidence to back up what many disgruntled employees have been saying all along – your job just might be killing you.

Analyzing more than 2,300 people during a seven-year period, researchers found that employees in high-stress positions who have little decision-making freedom at work were more likely to die young.

Along with this, they say these people often have a higher body mass index than employees who have more control at work, as they may eat more, smoke, or engage in other behaviours to cope with the demands of the job.

The findings suggest that having a higher degree of discretion in your job could help to manage work-related stress, contributing to a longer and healthier life.

In the study from Indiana University Kelley School of Business, researchers sampled 2,363 Wisconsin residents in their 60s over a seven year period.

Data were derived from the Wisconsin Longitudinal study, in which more than 10,000 people were interviewed at various intervals over the course of their lives, from 1957 to 2011.

The researchers found troubling trends among employees in stressful jobs: 26 percent of deaths occurred in people with frontline service jobs, while 32 percent of deaths were among people in manufacturing jobs, who reported high demands and low control at work.

Overall, people in low-control, high-demand jobs showed a 15.4 percent increase in the likelihood of death compared with those in low demand jobs.

But, those with high-control at work were linked to a 34 percent decrease in the likelihood of death, compared with those in low demand jobs.

‘We explored job demands, or the amount of work, time pressure and concentration demands of a job, and job control, or the amount of discretion one has over making decisions at work as joint predictors of death,’ said Erik Gonzalez-Mulé, assistant professor of organizational behaviour and human resources at the Kelley School and the paper’s lead author.

‘These findings suggest that stressful jobs have clear negative consequences for employee health when paired with low freedom in decision-making, while stressful jobs can actually be beneficial to employee health if also paired with freedom in decision-making.’

According to the researcher, there are numerous ways to mitigate the risks associated with stressful, low freedom jobs.

Negative health consequences can be reduced by allowing employees to set their own goals, Gonzalez-Mulé explains.

In the study, the researchers also linked high-demand, low control jobs to an increase in body mass index, indicating that lack of discretion at work could lead to an unhealthy lifestyle.

‘When you don’t have the necessary resources to deal with a demanding job, you do this other stuff,’ Gonzalez-Mulé said.

‘You might eat more, you might smoke, you might engage in some of these things to cope with it.

‘What we found is that those people that are in entry-level service jobs and construction jobs have pretty high death rates, more so than people in professional jobs and office positions,’ the researcher noted.

‘Interestingly, we found a really low rate of death among agricultural workers.’

Gonzalez-Mulé explains that ‘job crafting’ could help to ease stress in the workplace.

This is a relatively new process in which employees can mold and redesign their job.

While this may be difficult for some jobs, such as construction work, where rigid processes may be necessary, other blue-collar jobs may have the potential for more flexibility, the researcher says.

‘There’s a lot of research that shows that people who have a social connection with the beneficiaries of their work are much more satisfied and have less stress in their jobs, with no change in the job itself,’ Gonzalez-Mulé said.

According to the study, stress at work isn’t entirely bad.

In situations where employees have high-stress positions, but also have a high degree of control over their work, they often find the stress to be useful, the researchers found.

‘Stressful jobs cause you to find ways to problem-solve and work through ways to get the work done,’ Gonzalez-Mulé said.

‘Having higher control gives you the resources you need to do that. A stressful job then, instead of being something debilitating, can be something that’s energizing. You’re able to set your own goals, you’re able to prioritize work.

‘You can go about deciding how you’re going to get it done. That stress then becomes something you enjoy.’

Source: www.dailymail.co.uk