Alternative MethodsConventional Methods


March 29

A Bad Job is Harder on Your Mental Health than Unemployment

Grace Armstrong
Core Spirit member since Dec 24, 2020
Reading time 3 min.

There can be no doubt that the job market has been more resilient since the financial crisis than many imagined. Unemployment did not rise as far as was feared and the recovery in employment to pre-recession levels has been quicker than forecast by even the most optimistic labour economists. So, time for some self-congratulatory back-slapping among policy makers then? On the surface of things, at least, it looks like a jobs miracle, despite the belt-tightening of austerity.

Unfortunately, having studied the quality of jobs which many people in the United Kingdom are now doing, this is not entirely the case. The UK labor market is, indeed, performing well but we have a growing and potentially corrosive problem of poor quality, precarious and temporary work which threatens our productivity and competitiveness, levels of social inclusion and, ultimately, the health of the workforce.

Many will argue that this contingent work is essential if we are to have a flexible labor market and this, of course, has always been the case. But how about the effects of this kind of work on the people doing it?

My research has focused on the relationship between the kinds of contingent work that has poor psychosocial quality and the mental health of the workers doing it. And findings force us to ask, perhaps heretically, whether we are actually always better off in work.

Work and well-being

Psychosocial job quality involves the degree to which jobs promote control, autonomy, challenge, variety and task discretion. It effects the extent to which work enhances or diminishes our psychological well-being.

There’s a clear link between being engaged in “good work” and mental health. An important contribution to our understanding of this link has come from the Household, Income and Labor Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey in Australia. It brings together a robust set of data that can be easily compared with other situations such as unemployment. The results, published by Peter Butterworth and colleagues at the Australian National University have global resonance for countries that are serious about developing an understanding of what being “better off” in work really means, beyond narrow economic definitions.

The received wisdom is that being out of work is a bad thing

The received wisdom is that being out of work is a bad thing. It certainly is bad, as we know, for income. It is also bad for self-esteem, dignity, social inclusion, relationships and health. So, all other things being equal, a policy position that promotes getting people back into work is both rational and evidence-based.

But, building on this position, and especially during a period of high unemployment, the received wisdom also tells us that any job is a good job. This axiom informs current UK policy towards compulsory work experience and the “workfare” or “work-for-benefits” thinking which many politicians now favor.

Worse than unemployment

Being in poor-quality work which, perhaps, is boring, routine or represents underemployment or a poor match for the employee’s skills is widely regarded as a good way for the unemployed to remain connected to the labor market — and to keep the work habit. But Butterworth’s data contradicts this. The HILDA data shows unambiguously that the psychosocial quality of bad jobs is worse than unemployment. Butterworth looked at those moving from unemployment into employment and found that:

Those who moved into optimal jobs showed significant improvement in mental health compared to those who remained unemployed. Those respondents who moved into poor-quality jobs showed a significant worsening in their mental health compared to those who remained unemployed.

So now we have a slightly different answer to the question about the unemployed being better off in work. Yes they are, as long as they are in good-quality jobs. If they are in bad jobs, there is a perversely strong chance that they will be worse off — especially in terms of their mental health.

Again, for those who think that there should be punitive undertones to policies to get unemployed people back to work would do well to question whether the “any job is a good job” maxim is as accurate as they like to think. Moreover, we should probably question whether the revolving-door characteristics of some policies in which many people fall back out of work soon after being found a job might — in part — owe their poor performance to the damaging psychosocial quality of the work itself.

This shouldn’t stop us from straining every sinew to help people find work. But it should make us think a lot more about how the quality of jobs can affect our health and productivity. Even in a recession, the uncomfortable truth may be that “any job” may not be a good job at all.

STEPHEN BEVAN for The Conversation

Comments

Leave your questions here

To write a comment you must
or
Services
Category filter
Concern filter
Type filter
Sort
 

All categories

Angel Healing
$10 USD
Mental Health Advice & Tips

I can help you with past issues and give advice and tips on how to better your life. I can see through my third eye and receive messageson what you need to do …

Beings Of Light
Life Coaching
$10 USD
Discovery call

Are you interested in supporting your health with safe and effective holistic medicine? Not sure if you should switch diets, work with a health coach or explor…

Suzana Da Costa
Wellness Coaching
$50 USD
Mental Health and Holistic Lifestyle Coaching

Hi there! I’m Doug and I offer 1 on 1 Holistic Lifestyle and Mental Health Coaching sessions. Navtigating life with mental health issues of any sevarity is a h…

Doug Peterson
Wellness Coaching
$10 USD
Mental Health and Holistic Lifestyle Coaching Consultation

Hi there! I’m Doug and I offer 1 on 1 Holistic Lifestyle and Mental Health Coaching sessions. Navtigating life with mental health issues of any sevarity is a h…

Doug Peterson
Career Coaching
$195 USD
Holistic Lifestyle & Nutrition Coaching

ARE YOU TIRED? STRESSED OUT? STRUGGLING WITH YOUR WEIGHT? UNDER SLEPT? LOST YOUR ZEST FOR LIFE?

If this sounds like you, then you don’t need a new diet… you n…

David Giddings
Bach flower therapy
$120 USD
Bach Flower Essence Consultation

Exploration of where you’re feeling stuck or limited in life and recommendations of Bach Flower Essences to help loosen and dissolve old patterns.

Suzana Da Costa
Cognitive-behavioral therapy
$100 USD
Subliminal therapy

In this service we will use Subliminal therapy and Sound healing as alternative to tradition cognitive behavioral therapy.

We are born with our thoughts. Do n…

Ahmed Amin Youssef
Psychic Reading
$10 USD
I will do oracle and tarot card readings

I will do oracle & tarot card reading in any area of your life. You will get answer from the Angelic, Elemental, Faerie or Galactic realms. I will share wi…

Wisdom Realms
Spiritual Healing
$10 USD
Intro 2 Alignment Healing Chant

Namaste.

That is my greeting to the spirit within you. Join me for a welcome introduction session to celebrate my arrival at Core Spirit!

For 15 minutes I wi…

Ti3rc3 Fire
Mediumism
$55 USD
Psychic Medium Readings

READINGS Currently, all readings will be offered virtually. Appointments are available on Tuesday and Thursday mornings between 9am-1pm (UK Time Zone). When we…

Jan Morgan
Wellness Coaching
$10 USD
Ask a Question?

Supportive reflection of a current question that you would like clarity around. Using the SMART method to seek quidance in stepping onto your path of potential…

Beverly Lynn
Oracle Cards Reading
$25 USD
Psychic Reading 15 Minutes

Well-versed in the main 5 clairs, I will Intuitively answer your questions for 15 minutes.

Jyll Hoyrup
Emotional Stress Release
$150 USD
Creatrix® Breakthrough

This is a revolutionary process, SPECIALLY designed for women. You will be able to clear your most depeest BLOCKS and limiting beliefs. 

This is the only too…

Tamar Viva
Distance Healing
$10 USD
Energy Healing (Distant)

Distant Energy healing promotes relaxation, reduces tension and stress and will support an overal sense of well being after a treatment. It is an effective ad…

Beverly Lynn
Tarot Reading
$10 USD
Tarot Reading

I offer tarot readings with a 100% accuracy rate.

I don’t do deity readings or readings about a third party. That to me, is a violation of the person.

Zara Kalil
Emotional Freedom Technique
$10 USD
Transform Your Relationship With Your Money

In this session, you will learn the basics of Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT. Together we will use that technique, sometimes called simply tapping, to sor…

Nancy Allen
Personal Development Coaching
$10 USD
Anxiety and Depression - Coaching Consultation and Assessment Call

Are you looking to begin making a change in your life and become the best version of yourself by breaking free from the emotional barriers that has been blocki…

Amritha Kailas
Mind Control
$72 USD
Women's Emotional Wellness and Transformation Coaching

Are you dealing with confusion, low esteem, anxiety, depression, overthinking , relationship issues and trying to find focus, confidence, purpose, peace and b…

Amritha Kailas
Past Life Regression
$10 USD
Soul Readings

Your Soul is an accumulated repository of existential experience.

Access your creativity, things you learned from past lives.

Healing, you learned how to mak…

Core of Your Spirit
Emotional Freedom Technique
$105 USD
EFT tapping - Heal your past and uncover your authentic self

EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) is also know as EFT tapping. It is a mind-body approach which helps us to improve our physical, emotional and mental well-be…

Sina Weber
Tarot Reading
$10 USD
Single Card Pull

I will pull one single card for you to answer any question or concern. Typically, these types of quick readings are good for yes or no questions or simple answ…

Megan Zavar
Tarot Reading
$10 USD
One Question Tarot Reading

I’ll answer your question through Tarot and Oracle cards. I don’t restrict myself on the number of cards which will be used to give you guidance and clarity on…

Shanen Keith Hernandez
Tarot Reading
$10 USD
Love Reading

You can ask me up to 3 questions about your love situation and I will answer them all.

Sonya
Tarot Reading
$10 USD
General Tarot Reading

A three card spread to help you identify issues in your life and how to resolve them.

Tiffy

Related Articles