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Work Promotion Is Actually Bad For Health


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By Margarita Nahapetyan

Promotion at work can be good for the pocket, but can be very risky for a person's mental health, according to British economics and psychology researchers from the University of Warwick in Coventry.

The new findings contradict a common belief that advancement in career translates into better health because of an increased sense of self confidence, life control and overall well-being. "Getting a promotion at work is not as great as many people may think. Our research finds that the mental health of managers typically deteriorates after a job promotion, and in a way that goes beyond merely a short-term change," said University of Warwick researcher Chris Boyce. He also added that the investigators could not find any health benefits in individuals who have had job promotion other than reduced exposure to GP surgeries, "which may itself be something to worry about rather than celebrate."

In order to find out whether there is an association between job advancement and better physical health, Boyce and his team used data from the British Household Panel Survey, gathered annually between 1991 and 2005. The data offered information on nearly 1000 recently promoted individuals in the United Kingdom, and included information on many aspects of life including work, self-reported health and other medical info. After analyzing all the available information, the investigators discovered that there was no evidence of improved physical health after the advancement - nor that self-assessed feelings of health have declined.

However, what the researchers did find, was the evidence of significantly greater mental strain. The experts found that promotion gives people on average 10 per cent more mental strain and up to 20 per cent less time to visit their doctors in the event of illness. On first sight this drop in doctor visits does not match the lack of change in the reported health of promoted people. But the higher levels of stress of advanced individuals may offer an explanation - part of their stress may be due in part to more constraints on their time and they simply have less time to visit a physician.

Matt Smith, the Scottish Secretary of Unison, said the results of a new survey actually indicate the effects of the long-hours culture which has developed for many workers worldwide. He said that individuals are now expected to work these long hours and there is much more pressure on them to put in this extra time. "When someone is promoted there might be even more pressure to work longer hours," said Smith.

Stress is a term which is more or less known to any human being at present time. Be it a school-age child burdened with studies and the fierce competition in other fields, or elderly people who are about to retire, or employees who have to get more and more concentrated on their work in order to get promoted - everyone experiences some kind of stress. It is well known that stress can cause a variety of health issues such as frequent headaches, backaches, heart attacks, allergies, eating disorders and many, many more. If not for the brain, stress can also have a negative impact on the immune system of the body, which makes a stressed-out person age out much faster, therefore making him/her vulnerable for all kinds of diseases.

The survey, which C. Boyce carried out along with Professor Andrew Oswald of same university, will be presented later this month at the Royal Economic Society's conference.

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