How you feel you're treated at work can affect your physical health, says study

By Macaela Mackenzie

Building a stellar career requires some major hustle, no question about it. But there's a difference between putting in the overtime for something you really care about and feeling like the input to output ratio is less than fair-especially when it comes to your health, according a new study.

In new research published in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, researchers from the University of East Anglia in the UK explored how procedural justice-how fairly employers go about deciding on employee rewards, compensation, promotions and even who gets what assignment-impacts employee health. (BTW, Workplace Wellness Intiatives Are Having a Major Moment.)

The researchers looked at survey data from over 5,800 employees across industries in Sweden between 2008 and 2014 to gauge attitudes about workplace fairness, as well as how healthy employees reported themselves to be. Survey participants were asked to agree or disagree with statements like "superiors hear the concerns of all those affected by the decision" and "superiors provide opportunities to appeal or challenge the decision."

The researchers found that the more unfair an employee rated their work environment-meaning the less they felt they were represented in decision-making processes-the worse they rated their overall health.

But, luckily, the correlation worked the other way too: Improving perceptions of fair treatment at the office produced healthier employees. Definitely an argument for finding a work environment that leaves you feeling fulfilled at the end of the week. (Here's Why You Should Lobby Your Boss for a Flexible Schedule.)

One important caveat to the study is that the health data used was all self-reported, so there might be room for some psychological bias in the findings.

Self-reported or not, we'll take this as an excuse to never put up with a tyrannical boss or settle for a job that leaves us feeling like we aren't being treated fairly-our health could depend on it. (Related: Your Professional Personality May be Hurting Your Health.)


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