Your Job, Your Health
Researchers at Kansas State University found that employees who worked more than 50 hours per week were more likely to have reduced physical and mental well-being. These workers tended to skip meals because they were too busy working, and had higher incidences of self-reported depression. Another study found that people who worked at least 10 hours a day had a 60 percent higher risk of heart-related problems, such as death due to heart disease or a nonfatal heart attack, than those who didn't work overtime.
Lack of movement
The American Osteopathic Association found that two-thirds of office employees suffered from physical pain on the job during a six-month period, primarily due to desk work. Hunching over your desk, staring at a computer monitor, and using a mouse and keyboard for prolonged periods all strain your muscles and eyes, and were the main culprits of employee pain. Another study published in the journal Human Factors found that standing isn't much better — employees who spend most of their workday upright suffer from increased fatigue, leg cramps and backaches.
For one week, participants were restricted to checking email three times per day. The following week, they had unlimited email access. Despite finding it difficult to limit their email use, participants reported significantly lower daily stress levels when they checked their inbox only a few times per day.
Taking (or not taking) breaks
Failure to take breaks is causing a lot of job-related stress among employees, and they know it: Nearly 60 percent of survey respondents said more breaks would improve their work happiness, and 43 percent said it would boost their personal happiness. Additionally, 37 percent said regular breaks would improve their health.
The study noted that retired individuals often pick up unhealthy habits, including smoking, drinking, unhealthy eating and infrequent exercise. Early retirees may engage in these habits sooner, which contribute to an increased risk of premature death, the study suggested.
Staying at a job you hate
One of the study's authors speculated that, in the absence of an emotional bond with the organization, a worker's commitment is based on obligation. This feeling of indebtedness and a loss of autonomy are emotionally draining over time, the researcher said.
Although stress levels vary depending on your method and options for transportation, the general rule seemed to be that the larger the city, the more taxing the commute. Unforeseen delays, as well as a lack of control over commuting circumstances, contribute to higher stress levels.
The research showed that the people in the study who were unemployed for more than 25 weeks in the past year were more likely than their employed counterparts to experience mental health issues for the first time. The researchers attributed their findings to the sense of purpose that work provides. Long-term unemployment makes people feel like they've lost control of their capacity to earn a living and take care of their families, which makes them worry about their futures.
On the flip side, the more negative aspects of the workplace social environment can lead to physical and mental health issues. The emotional effects of bullying in the office are obvious, but research published in Management Communication Quarterly found that victims of workplace bullying suffer in silence for fear of being labeled as crybabies or whiners. Being ignored by colleagues can be even more harmful: Researchers at the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business found that employees who felt ostracized at work were more likely to report health problems, a lowered sense of workplace commitment and a stronger intention to quit their jobs.
Sucking up to the boss
The research showed that feelings of ostracism — which can lead to job tension, emotional exhaustion and depression — often can be neutralized by an employee's smart use of ingratiation skills in the office. The study's authors say the key lies in how well employees read the body language and expressions of co-workers; employees who aren't particularly in tune to these things can actually worsen the situation by sucking up, the study suggested.
This story was originally published in 2012 and was updated on Jan. 15, 2016. Additional reporting by Business News Daily senior writer Chad Brooks.