Favourable job conditions and high-quality work can have a more positive effect on your mental health than how much you earn
A stressful job can be more harmful to mental health than being unemployed, according to new research released by the Australian National University's Centre for Mental Health Research.
Based on a survey of more than 7,000 people of working age, the research revealed that the mental health of those who are jobless is comparable to, or often better than, that of people working in poor-quality jobs.
The "psychosocial" quality of respondents' jobs was graded according to measures relating to job demands and complexity, level of control and perceived job security. Respondents were also asked if they felt they received a fair wage for the work they did.
Those in the poorest quality jobs - which include those that are very demanding, poorly supported or allow for little control - experienced the sharpest decline in mental health over time.
According to the survey, there was a direct linear association between the number of unfavourable working conditions experienced and mental health, with each additional adverse condition lowering the mental health score.
The report said that although paid work confers several benefits such as a defined social role and purpose, friendships and structured time, highly demanding jobs that provide little reward and afford little control are not good for an individual's mental health.
"Adverse psychosocial work conditions such as high job demands, low decision latitude or control, job strain, a lack of social support at work, effort-reward imbalance and job insecurity are well-established risk factors for poor health," stated the report.
"This study has shown that work of poor psychosocial quality, characterised by low job control, high job demands and complexity, job insecurity and the perception of unfair pay does not bestow the same mental health benefits as employment in jobs with high psychosocial quality."
"When it comes to managing workload, most young lawyers are eager to take every opportunity to learn through the experiences available to them in their teams. The challenge is to build in opportunities for reflection - at both an individual and team level - which allows both integration of the learning being acquired but also time for rejuvenation and renewal so necessary to support a sustainable career in the law," said Nicola Atkinson, Blake Dawson learning and development manager.
And in the wake of the global financial crisis, high-quality work is becoming more important, particularly for younger people in terms of measuring career success.
According to a US study released this month by the Career Advisory Board, The Future of Millennial Careers, the recession has changed the perceptions of younger workers, with meaningful work and autonomy becoming more important than a high salary.
In the survey, young professionals, aged 21 to 31, and hiring managers indicated that "millennials" (born between 1980 and 1995) believe that doing work that is personally meaningful to them and achieving a sense of accomplishment are just as important as earning a high salary.
According to the survey, about 30 per cent of millennials now identify meaningful work as the single most important measure of a successful career.