Are you feeling trapped and powerless at work? You may want to look into changing that. A new study from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business has found that those with little autonomy over their workday were more likely to die young than those with more flexibility and control.
To reach this conclusion, researchers tracked 2,363 Wisconsin residents in their 60s over a seven-year period and examined two factors: job demand (the workload, time pressure and focus involved) and job control (the amount of direction and control.)
What they discovered was that those with little decision-making power in demanding jobs have a 15.4 percent increase in mortality compared to those with less demanding jobs – particularly those working in entry-level service and construction jobs versus office workers.
The study also found that people in high-demand jobs with little control have a tendency to be less healthy than those who hold high-demand jobs with lots of control. Those in the latter category have a 34 percent decrease in mortality compared to low-demand positions.
Erik Gonzalez-Mulé, the lead study author and assistant professor of organizational behavior and human resources at the Kelley School, said in a release that stressful jobs “have clear negative consequences for employee health when paired with low freedom in decision-making.”
Employers don’t need to reduce workloads so much as restructure positions so that those who hold them have more autonomy and flexibility in how they complete their work, said Gonzalez-Mulé.
“You can avoid the negative health consequences if you allow them to set their own goals, set their own schedules, prioritize their decision-making and the like,” he said.