Jobs That Literally Make People Sick
While effective human resource manage ment aims to create motivating jobs, poor leadership coupled with difficult circumstances can result in jobs that are so unpleasant that workersâ€™ mental health begins to suffer. Researchers at the Australian National University analyzed data about working conditions and mental health in more than 7,000 adults over a seven-year period. They found that the mental health of workers in the worst of these jobs was no better thanâ€”and sometimes worse thanâ€”the mental health of unemployed adults.
The job characteristics that were mostly strongly associated with mental health were the jobâ€™s complexity and demands, job security, the perceived fairness of pay, and control over the job (for example, ability to decide how to perform tasks). In highly demanding jobs with low security, unfair pay, and little control, workers experienced declining mental health. Unemployment also had an impact on mental health, but it was not as severe.
People differ in what kinds of work they consider unbearable, but many would have that attitude toward working in an Alabama fish-processing plant. The rooms have to be kept cold, and they are wet as well. Some people would likely object to smelling fish all day long. Workers stand for at least 10 hours a day, making repetitive cuts. For all this, they earn minimum wage and limited benefits. In spite of these conditions, employers were able until recently to fill these positions with immigrant workers. But after Alabama passed a law requiring police to question individuals who they believe could be in the United States illegally, many of those workers left the state. Employers report difficulty filling jobs such as these with U.S. workers.
1.Â Â Â What would be the consequences to an employer of having highly demanding jobs with low security, unfair pay, and little control?
2.Â Â Â How could fish-processing plants like the one described here improve jobs so they can fill vacant positions profitably?