New research says your job could (literally) be killing you

Have you ever had to work for a micromanager? It can feel very demotivating. Well, it turns out that it’s even worse than that. It can actually be lethal.

One of the benefits of working from home is the greater amount of autonomy that usually comes with it. Employers can see the results of your work, but it is more difficult to micromanage someone in another location.

Although, remember that most employers will be monitoring the activity of remote workers.

That autonomy could save your life. New research has found that your health (and mortality) are strongly linked to the level of independence you have on the job, your workload, and how well you deal with on-the-job stress.

The study out of the Indiana University Kelley School of Business is called “This Job Is (Literally) Killing Me: A Moderated-Mediated Model Linking Work Characteristics to Mortality,” and it is published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

“When job demands are greater than the control afforded by the job or an individual’s ability to deal with those demands, there is a deterioration of their mental health and, accordingly, an increased likelihood of death,” explains the study’s lead author Erik Gonzalez-Mulé.

“We examined how job control — or the amount of autonomy employees have at work — and cognitive ability — or people’s ability to learn and solve problems — influence how work stressors such as time pressure or workload affect mental and physical health and, ultimately, death. We found that work stressors are more likely to cause depression and death as a result of jobs in which workers have little control or for people with lower cognitive ability.”

In a nutshell, being micromanaged, having a great deal of on-the-job stress, and lacking the problem-solving skills to deal with high-pressure situations can be deadly. The research followed a group of over 3000 participants over a 20-year period, during which time 211 of them died.

“Managers should provide employees working in demanding jobs more control. For example, allowing employees to set their own goals or decide how to do their work could improve health,” Gonzalez-Mulé said. “Organizations should select people high on cognitive ability for demanding jobs. By doing this, they will benefit from the increased job performance associated with more intelligent employees, while having a healthier workforce.”

“COVID-19 might be causing more mental health issues, so it’s particularly important that work not exacerbate those problems,” Gonzalez-Mulé said. “This includes managing and perhaps reducing employee demands, being aware of employees’ cognitive capability to handle demands and providing employees with autonomy are even more important than before the pandemic began.”

You can read the full release from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business here.

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