Working conditions are closely linked to mental health and the risk of death

A new study from the Kelly School of Business at Indiana University (USA) showed that mental health and mortality are closely related to the degree of autonomy at work, the level of workload, the demands placed on it, and the ability to cope with them. The article has been published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

The American researchers studied how the degree of control, the ability to cope with work tasks, workload, and other stress factors affect mental and physical health, as well as the risk of death. To do this, they used data from the Midlife Longitudinal Study, conducted in the United States over 20 years, and studied a sample of 3,148 Americans who participated in the project. 

Analysis of the data showed that stress at work is more likely to result in depression and high risk of death from all reasons when the employee has little or no autonomy and when his or her cognitive abilities are inadequate to the task. In other words, if the work requirements exceed the employee's ability to cope with them, then his mental health will suffer and the risk of death will increase.

On the contrary, if the defined range of duties corresponds to the employee's abilities, then his health will improve. The authors explain: when an employee has the opportunity to set his own schedule, assign certain tasks as a priority, and the level of workload does not deplete his resources, then his mental health improves, and the risk of death decreases.

Based on the results of the research, scientists suggest that managers of companies provide more independence to their employees - give them the opportunity to set goals and decide how and in what sequence to perform certain tasks, as well as monitor the level of requirements. Then they will be more productive and have a healthier 'workforce'. Directors should also appoint people with the appropriate abilities, responsible and cognitively flexible - otherwise the psyche and even the life of the employee will be at risk.

May 21, 2020, 12:28 p.m.

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