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Thinking smarter

We provide a brief overview on the importance of control and how it links to workplace health.

One of the challenges with working in a fast-paced and demanding environment is the feeling of not being in control. We know that feelings of control are helpful in managing stress.

To illustrate this we refer to a study by Gonzalez-Mulé & Cockburn (2016)[1] who from 2,363 individuals over a period of 7 years. For individuals in low control jobs, high job demands were associated with a 15.4% increase in the odds of death compared to low job demands. For those in high control jobs, high job demands are associated with a 34% decrease in the odds of death compared to low job demands. In short, these data suggests having a high demand job is actually good for your health provided you feel as though you have some control. However being in a high demand job with low control is detrimental to health. A possible explanation for this is the effect that having a low level of perceived control has on behaviour. Specifically, having low resources such as a lack of control, with no freedom of decision making, leads to damaging coping methods, such as overeating, smoking, drinking.

This is of course only one study but it illustrates the importance of control and in the next step we explore a strategy for thinking about control in a more adaptive way.

References

  1. Gonzalez-Mulé E, Cockburn B. Worked to Death: The Relationships of Job Demands and Job Control with Mortality. Personnel Psychology. 2016;70(1):73-112.
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Workplace Wellbeing: Stress and Productivity at Work

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