ANU Study Finds Any Job Is Not Necessarily Better Than None

ANU Study Finds Any Job Is Not Necessarily Better Than None

It’s a common belief that “any job is better than no job,” but a research team from the Australian National University in Canberra begs to differ.

After analysing data collected since 2001 from a nationally representative household survey of more than 7,000 Australian residents, a team from the Centre for Mental Health Research at ANU has concluded that the psychological toll of a thankless, poorly paid, job can be just as stressful as having no job at all.

Dr Peter Butterworth, ANU professor and head of the research team, reported their findings and methodology in the international journal, Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

“We look at four different aspects of work in our study: whether people were working in highly complex and demanding jobs, whether they hada say in how they did their work, whether they considered they received fair pay for their efforts, and whether they felt secure in their jo,” Butterworth reported.

Participants also filled out a mental health questionnaire that assessed symptoms of depression and anxiety as well as positive emotions, including feeling happy and calm.

At first glance, those who were employed seemed to have a better mental health overall than their unemployed counterparts, but after certain variables such as gender, age, and marital status were removed, the scales tilted in favour of the unemployed. The study found that the mental health of those with poorest-quality jobs deteriorated much faster than those who were unemployed.

The findings of the ANU study have been receiving international attention because it has significant implications for social policies that are based on the belief that ‘work not only promotes economic well being but emotional as well; therefore, any job is better than none.’

So the conversation swirling around these findings has naturally turned to, “okay, now what?” What can we do to improve job quality? For the most part, the public and experts seem to be in consensus:

  • Put protections in place that make employees feel more secure in their jobs (e.g. employment contracts)
  • Offer a number of flexible options that limit the number of ‘forced choices’ employees have to make (e.g. the work vs. family choice – stay to finish a task at the office or leave early to take care of your sick child at home)

It’s important to note that cutting full time jobs in half is not always the best solution or the only solution. There are many other flexible work options such as shared roles or flexible work schedules. The main point is that all of the research and surveys are showing us something has got to give.

The archaic notions of work are not working for us and it’s time to evolve in order to create better work environments which will, in turn, benefit the employer as much as the employee in terms of staff retention and improved productivity among other things.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts, suggestions and/or personal experiences…

One Response to “ANU Study Finds Any Job Is Not Necessarily Better Than None”
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  1. […] your hair out at the prospect of doing nothing for three months. But look at the bright side: A recent study conducted by Australian National University found that, income notwithstanding, having a bad job is […]

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