A Bad Job Is Worse for Your Health Than Having No Job at All, Says Study

Kelsey Clark

It's no secret that a toxic workplace environment can weigh heavily on your mental health. But according to a study published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, having a poor-quality job is actually worse for your mental well-being than having no job at all. According to Mashable's Stephen Bevan, a poor-quality job is one that is either boring, repetitive, unstable, significantly below one's skill level, or a combination of the four. Unfortunately, the recent recession has served as a breeding ground for these poor-quality jobs and underemployment in general.

"Those who moved into optimal jobs showed significant improvement in mental health compared to those who remained unemployed," said study author Peter Butterworth of the results. "Those respondents who moved into poor-quality jobs showed a significant worsening in their mental health compared to those who remained unemployed." The researchers rated jobs based on "psychosocial quality," or the extent to which a job promotes control, autonomy, challenge, variety, and task discretion. In turn, psychosocial quality determines whether a job enhances or diminishes a person's psychological well-being, as explained by Bevan.

This finding contradicts the common wisdom that any job is a good job and that remaining in the job market, no matter how miserable you are, is better than collecting unemployment. Unfortunately, this belief has largely informed our approach to employment during the recession and likely given rise to the problem of dead-end, temporary jobs and dissatisfied workers across the U.S.

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