The autonomy we have in our job, our workload and the ability to deal with the demands placed on us is associated with our mental health and mortality, reveals new research.
The team of researchers examined how our control of our job function and cognitive ability influence how work stress factors, such as pressure to meet deadlines or workload, affect mental and physical health.
“When the demands of the job are greater than the control offered by the job or an individual's ability to cope with those demands, there is a deterioration in their mental health and, consequently, a greater probability of death,” says Erik Gonzalez-Mulé , professor at Indiana University in the United States, and the lead author of the article published this week in the Journal of Applied Psychology.
Conversely, the study's authors found that job demands result in better physical health and less chance of death when combined with greater control of job responsibilities.
"We believe this is because work control and cognitive ability act as resources that help people cope with stress at work," said Gonzalez-Mulé, cited by Futurity.
“Work control allows people to set their own hours and prioritize work in a way that helps them achieve their work goals, while smarter people are better able to adapt to the demands of stressful work and discover ways to deal with stress ”, he added.
The results of the investigation are based on data from 3,148 Wisconsin residents, who participated in a longitudinal study. Of this sample, 211 participants died during the 20-year study.
The solution, according to Gonzalez-Mulé, is for managers to offer more control to their employees. If this is not possible, the requirements must be reduced proportionately.
"For example, allowing employees to set their own goals or deciding how to do their job or reducing employees' working hours can improve their health," explained the researcher.
This is particularly important now, during the covid-19 pandemic, when some workers are exposed to extra stress and may develop mental health problems.