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Build Your Career Work-Life Balance

Sticking With a Job You Hate Can Make You Sick

Sticking With a Job You Hate Can Make You Sick Credit: Unhappy Worker Image via Shutterstock

Staying at a job you hate may affect more than just your happiness.  New research finds that employees who stay at jobs out of a feeling of obligation are prone to several health problems, including exhaustion, stress and burnout. 

"Our study examined whether some forms of commitment to an organization could have detrimental effects, such as emotional exhaustion and, eventually, turnover," said study co-author Alexandra Panaccio, an assistant professor at Concordia University in Montreal. "It may be that, in the absence of an emotional bond with the organization, commitment based on obligation is experienced as a kind of indebtedness — a loss of autonomy that is emotionally draining over time."

The research, published in the journal Human Relations, found that employees who stayed at organizations out of either a feeling of obligation or a perceived lack of other job options were more likely than other employees to experience mental and physical health problems. Researchers based their findings on a study of 260 workers from a variety of industries.

The research also found that people with higher self-esteem were more greatly affected by a lack of employment options.

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"When employees stay with their organization because they feel that they have no other options, they are more likely to experience emotional exhaustion," said Panaccio, who is in the department of management at Concordia's John Molson School of Business. "This feeling, in turn, may lead them to leave the organization."

Employers, however, can fight these problems by working with their employees.

"The implication is that employers should try to minimize this 'lack of alternatives' type of commitment among employees by developing their competencies, thus increasing their feeling of mobility and, paradoxically, contributing to them wanting to stay with the organization," Panaccio said.

The research was a collaborative effort by Concordia, the University of Montreal and the business school HEC Montréal.

Reach BusinessNewsDaily staff writer David Mielach at Dmielach@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @D_M89.