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Positive and negative impacts of work on wellbeing

Earlier this week, we looked at the negative effects of work on the wellbeing of a teacher in London in the course’s welcome video, and we went on to look at the pressures resulting from a rapidly changing work environment.

Is work, therefore, ultimately detrimental to wellbeing or is the picture more nuanced? In this step, we explore the main effects of work on wellbeing positive and negative.

The positive impact of work on wellbeing

Being employed provides many benefits other than the more obvious financial rewards. Having a job can give an individual a sense of purpose, a routine and a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

Work can also have a positive impact on wellbeing in the following ways:

By fostering social relationships

Work provides the opportunity to meet new people and connect with others. The interactions that occur between employees can result in a number of factors that have a positive impact on employee wellbeing, including trust and social support (Bradbury and Lichenstein 2000).

By engaging individuals

The relationship between employee engagement and productivity is well known. However, less is known about the relationship between engagement and employee wellbeing.

Research suggests that employee engagement can have a positive and significant effect on organisations but argues that managers play an important role in ensuring engagement and wellbeing (CIPD 2012).

By providing a sense of achievement

Cross-sectional studies show an association between various psychosocial characteristics of work, including job satisfaction, job demands/control, effort/reward, and various subjective measures of general health and psychological wellbeing (Waddel and Burton 2006)

The negative impact of work on wellbeing

While work can have a positive impact on wellbeing, it can also have a negative impact. Burnout and subsequent exhaustion have been shown to have a negative effect on wellbeing.


Burnout is a psychological syndrome and has a negative impact on wellbeing. It is the result of chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully dealt with and is characterised by overwhelming exhaustion, a sense of cynicism and detachment from work (Maslach, Schaufeli and Leiter 2001). Research suggests that burnout is a strong predictor of depression (Shin et al. 2013).

We will look at burnout in more detail later in the program.

Your task

Read this article on exhaustion and work engagement, then answer the following question:

What were the findings of this research in relation to the impact of burnout and exhaustion on productivity?

Post your thoughts in the comments area and ‘like’ or reply to posts you find useful or interesting.


Bradbury, H., Bergmann Lichtenstein, B. M. (2000) ‘Relationality in Organizational Research: Exploring the Space Between’. Organization Science [online] 11 (5), 551-564. available from https://locate.coventry.ac.uk/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=TN_gale_ofa97484907&context=PC&vid=COV_VU1&search_scope=Primo_Central&tab=remote&lang=en_US [10th May 2019]

CIPD (2012) Managing for Sustainable Employee Engagement: Guidance for Employers and Managers [online] available from https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/relations/engagement/management-guide [28 March 2019]

Hakanen, J.J., Koivumäki, J. (2014) ‘Engaged or Exhausted—How Does it Affect Dentists’ Clinical Productivity?’. Burnout Research [online] 1 (1), 12-18. available from https://locate.coventry.ac.uk/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=TN_sciversesciencedirect_elsevierS2213-0586(14)00003-5&context=PC&vid=COV_VU1&search_scope=Primo_Central&tab=remote&lang=en_US [10th May 2019]

Maslach C., Schaufeli W., B, Leiter, M.P. (2001) ‘Job Burnout’. Annual Review of Psychology 52: 397-422

Shin, H., Noh, H., Jang, Y., Park, Y., Lee, S. (2013) ‘A longitudinal examination of the relationship between teacher burnout and depression’. Journal of Employment Counseling [online] 50 (3), 124-137. available from https://locate.coventry.ac.uk/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=TN_gale_ofa344279156&context=PC&vid=COV_VU1&search_scope=Primo_Central&tab=remote&lang=en_US [10th May 2019]

Waddell, G., Burton, A. K. (2006) Is Work Good for Your Health and Wellbeing? An Independent Review [online] available from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/is-work-good-for-your-health-and-well-being [10th May 2019]

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This article is from the free online course:

Wellbeing at Work: An Introduction

Coventry University