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A bad job can be worse for your health than being unemployed

Posted: 15 Aug 2017

It's no secret that long-term unemployment can have a negative effect on an individual's emotional wellbeing. But new research now suggests that there is something worse than having no job at all – and that's being in the wrong role.

According to research from the University of Manchester, people who are in low-paid or high-stress jobs were found to experience more adverse health problems than those who are unemployed. The news comes from a self-reported health and chronic stress levels test, which called on more than 1,000 people aged 35-75 to share their experiences as they moved through different employment statuses.

The findings revealed that those with the highest levels of stress were among those who had moved from unemployment to a poor-quality role. Conversely, those who moved from unemployment to a good job were found to be the least stressed.

Professor Sir Cary Cooper, president of the CIPD and professor of organisational psychology and health at Manchester Business School, explained the findings to People Management: "The popular mantra is that work is better for you than not working and, on balance, this is true. But it has to be good work."

Crucially, pushing people back into any job can be highly detrimental to the individual, especially if the role is with an organisation that has a bullying culture or involves a heavy workload. Moreover, given the nature of poor-quality work, many individuals will end up trapped in the role due to a lack of other opportunities.

Cooper predicts that health and wellbeing in the workplace may falter in the near future, especially in the wake of general economic uncertainty, job insecurity and political upheaval. As a consequence, he suggests businesses champion wellbeing as a way of nourishing staff and protecting them from mental illness.

As a hiring manager, if your company is suffering from a high turnover rate, you should plan to review your working conditions and compensation. For instance, do you offer remote working, or any other benefits? Here at Stopgap, we can advise on how to help you get ahead of competitors and become a more attractive employer. Get in touch today to see how we can help.


Click to read more about work-life balance, flexible working or how low-paid workers most likely to burn-out!



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