Reported by Michal Ortner
While the job market has been looking up and more people seem to be finding temporary and long-term positions, some researchers are wondering if this has created new psychosocial problems in a vast majority of workers. This poses an issue for production rates and overall competency for those who are in temporary situations, especially if they feel their job is menial.
According to Mashable writer Stephen Bevan, “Psychosocial job quality involves the degree to which jobs promote control, autonomy, challenge, variety and task discretion. It affects the extent to which work enhances or diminishes our psychological well-being.”
A survey in Australia conducted by The Household, Income and Labor Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) provided data that shows what is to be gained when a person is engaged in a fulfilling position. According the results of the research, “Overall, unemployment respondents had poorer mental health than those who were employed. However, the mental health of those who were unemployed was comparable or superior to those jobs of the poorest psychosocial quality.”
“Those who moved into optimal jobs showed significant improvement in mental health compared to those who remained unemployed. Those respondents who moved into poor-quality jobs showed a significant worsening in their mental health compared to those who remained unemployed,” the data also found.
Bevan makes a point when he writes that “we should probably question whether the revolving-door characteristics of some policies in which many people fall back out of work soon after being found a job might — in part — owe their poor performance to the damaging psychosocial quality of the work itself.”
In the U.K., there is a program called “zero-hour” that is supposed to benefit both the employer and employee. The employer is able to find a worker quickly and does not deal with a contract, and the employee can begin working immediately, though for an unknown amount of time.
“The context for zero-hours working is a long-term trend towards more flexible and diverse forms of work capable of meeting the needs of employers and individuals,” states a report by CIPD that was gathered through the Labour Market Outlook and Employee Outlook.
The problem with the new concept of flexibility for employment comes when a worker needs more stability to pay bills. Some workers report that they can be turned down for housing because their income is “too risky.” This type of adversity adds a stress marker to the employee.
The research done by HILDA concludes that “work of poor psychosocial quality does not bestow the same mental health benefits as employment in jobs with high psychosocial quality.”