When you’re unemployed, any job can seem like a good job. Because it’d be better to have one than to not have one at all. But, that’s proving to not necessarily be the case—at least as far as your mental health is concerned.
“There’s a clear link between being engaged in ‘good work’ and mental health,” Stephen Bevan, director of the Centre for Workforce Effectiveness, The Work Foundation and and honorary professor at Lancaster University wrote in an article for The Conversation.
So, just any old job is not necessarily going to be better for your well being.
Now, unemployment can certainly have negative effects, as well. Of course, there is often a detrimental financial impact of being out of work.
“It is also bad for self-esteem, dignity, social inclusion, relationships and health,” Bevan wrote.
So, the instinct to want to help lower the rate of unemployment is a good one. But, it’s not just about making sure everyone has a job, it’s about finding everyone a job they will enjoy and benefit from. A lofty ideal, we know, but it is backed up by data from a survey by the Household, Income and Labor Dynamics in Australia (HILDA), which tracks people who have recently gone back to work after a period of unemployment.
That survey found that people who moved into jobs they enjoyed after being unemployed showed a significant improvement in mental health, compared to those who remained out of work. However, people who got poor-quality jobs after being unemployed reported significantly worse mental health than people who were still without jobs.
What constitutes a good job? Bevan says it’s all about the degree to which the jobs promote things such as control, challenge, variety and task discretion, to name a few. In other words, the more productive you feel in a position, the better you feel about yourself and the better your outlook.
Bevan even goes so far to suggest that poor performance is not always purely because of an individual, but could be because they are stuck doing work that doesn’t suit them. Not liking your job definitely won’t motivate you to deserve a “job well done” and a pat on the back at the end of the day, you know?
So, if you’re unhappy with your job now, the best thing to do is to start making moves to find a job where you will feel satisfied. Because in the long run, that’s better for everyone involved.