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October 2016
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Career Killer? Stress and Lack of Freedom Lead to Early Graves

Monday, October 17, 2016

Most employees have muttered "this job is killing me" under their breath at least once in their career, but a new study shows this sentiment might actually be more accurate than expected. Researchers from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business analyzed more than 2,300 people over a seven-year period and found that employees in high-stress positions who have little freedom to make their own decisions tend to die younger than their less-stressed counterparts. The study suggests that higher degrees of autonomy and discretion in the workplace could help manage stress and contribute to a longer, healthier life. "We explored job demands, or the amount of work, time pressure and concentration demands of a job, and job control, or the amount of discretion one has over making decisions at work as joint predictors of death," said Erik Gonzalez-Mulé, assistant professor of organizational behavior and human resources at the Kelley School and the paper’s lead author. “These findings suggest that stressful jobs have clear negative consequences for employee health when paired with low freedom in decision-making, while stressful jobs can actually be beneficial to employee health if also paired with freedom in decision-making.”

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