Career Mental Health

Report: Having a Bad Job Is More Psychologically Damaging Than Being Unemployed

Former Staff Writer
2 min read

While unemployment is generally understood to be damaging to one’s self-esteem, interpersonal relationships and overall wellbeing, a new report out of the United Kingdom suggests that having a bad job -- one that is boring, unstimulating or poorly suited -- can be even more detrimental to a person’s mental health.

Following a downturn brought on by the recession, unemployment levels are now decreasing in the UK at a quicker-than-expected rate, according to The Conversation, an academic outlet.

However, the tenor of jobs being offered is increasingly of poor quality or of a precarious or temporary nature -- “which threatens our productivity and competitiveness, levels of social inclusion and, ultimately, the health of the workforce,” writes researcher Stephen Bevan.

Related: Bitter or Sweet? This One Thing Can Determine the Taste of Your Coffee.

And though such jobs may be necessary to the labor market, Bevan aims to shed light on their psychosocial impacts. When the unemployed transition into poor-quality jobs, he says, “there is a perversely strong chance that they will be worse off -- especially in terms of their mental health.”

Instead, notes Bevan, in rebuilding the workforce, governments should be mindful of high-quality jobs, which promote autonomy, are challenging and present employees with a variety of tasks.

While Bevan does ultimately believe in “straining every sinew to help people find work,” he hopes his findings will encourage people to question the well-accustomed axiom that any job is better than no job at all. 

Related: Stress, Anxiety, Loneliness: How This Entrepreneur Lost Himself and Bounced Back Stronger

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