Yes, You Can Actually Work Yourself To Death. But Is That A Surprise?
A recent study found that the less control you have over your job, the more likely you are to drop dead.
Researchers studied 2,363 Wisconsin residents in their 60s for seven years, and found that “those 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.
They also found that people with less control in demanding jobs were 15.4% more likely to die than those with more liberty to structure their own timelines and goals.
They recommend that employers ease up a bit, for the good of all and suggest “job crafting,” which involves employees to redesign their jobs to make them more meaningful.
The more freedom employees in stressful jobs have, in other words, the more they flourish.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re in a Twinkie factory or managing a hedge fund – if you get to choose when you have your coffee break and what you want to get done before that, you’re more likely to be productive, and to live to work another day.
If the boss lays off trying to control you all the time, you also get better at your job.
These research subjects were a bunch of 60-year-olds, but the principles easily transfer to managing, say, 6-year-olds.
We parents know this – give ‘em freedom (or the illusion of freedom) and they’ll grow in confidence and become more competent human beings.
Job angst is very real. In Japan, there is a word for dropping dead from work stress: karoshi. However, let us remember the word for dropping dead from no work and no possibility of work: starvation.
Sure, spending your days feeling seasick in a Twinkie factory is awful. But spending your days wondering how you’re going to feed your children has to be worse.
We don’t all have control of our work circumstances, our bosses or too many other factors that box us in to the lives we’ve (sort of) chosen. But sometimes there are choices even within tight constraints.
Herman Melville’s character Bartleby, who had a drab office job, one day simply said: “I would prefer not to.” He got away with it.
Perhaps, armed with scientific proof that the alternative might be a shorter life on this marvelous earth, we can all find some courage and fight to have more autonomy at our jobs.
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