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Lack of Control Kills in High-Stress Jobs

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By Sylvia Booth Hubbard   |   Monday, 17 Oct 2016 11:50 AM


Having control over your job can be a matter of life and death!


Numerous studies have found that having some control over your job can help you manage work-related stress, but a study from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business found a lack of control can kill you.


The research discovered that people in high-stress jobs with little control over their workflow die younger or are less healthy than those who have more flexibility and discretion in their jobs and are able to set their own goals as part of their employment.


The study analyzed 2,363 Wisconsin residents in their 60s over a seven-year period. Those employees who had jobs with little control coupled with high demands increased the risk of dying 15.4 percent when compared to those whose jobs had low control coupled with low demands.


Employees in demanding jobs that offered a high amount of control, however, had a 34 percent decrease in the likelihood of death compared to those in low job demands but also had little control.


"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 the study's lead author Erik Gonzalez-Mulé.


"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."


He suggested that employers restructure some jobs to provide employees with more say about how the work gets done.


"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, also recommending that firms allow "employees to have a voice in the goal-setting process, so when you're telling someone what they're going to do ... it's more of a two-way conversation."


People in demanding jobs with little control were also heavier than those in demanding jobs with a high amount of control.


"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."


The study also found that 26 percent of deaths occurred in people in frontline service jobs, and 32 percent of deaths occurred in people with manufacturing jobs who also reported high job demands and low control.


"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," he said. "Interestingly, we found a really low rate of death among agricultural workers."


Numerous studies have found that job stress is the major source of stress for Americans. According to the Institute of Stress, it has escalated over the past few decades.


Studies report that 80 percent of workers feel stress on the job, and 40 percent label their job as very or extremely stressful.


According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 83 percent of men and 72 percent of women who report work stress say that it carries over to their personal lives.

 

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Having control over your job can be a matter of life and death! Numerous studies have found that having some control over your job can help you manage work-related stress, but a study from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business found a lack of control can kill...
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