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Power at work may be bad for health

health-and-fitness Updated: Oct 21, 2009 12:51 IST

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Having position of authority at work does have its perks, but a new study has shown that the people at top are more likely to experience certain psychological and Workplacephysical problems.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Toronto, used data from a national survey of 1,800 American workers in different occupations and sectors.

It revealed previously undocumented evidence about the up and downsides of having authority in the workplace.

People with job authority are defined as those who direct or manage the work of others, have control over others, pay, and can hire or fire others.

Sociology professor Scott Schieman and PhD student Sarah Reid found that people with more authority at work experience certain benefits that can contribute to better health. They tend to earn greater pay and have jobs that involve more problem-solving tasks, making their work more interesting and engaging.

"Unfortunately, there are also downsides to job authority that undermine or offset the upsides of having power at work. In most cases, the health costs negate the benefits," Schieman said.

Schieman said that people with job authority report significantly higher levels of interpersonal conflict with others.

They're also more likely to encounter work-to-home interference, where stressors at work spill over into non-work domains like family and leisure time. These factors increase the risk for psychological distress, anger and poor health.

"Power at work does have drawbacks and the negative impact on personal health – both emotional and physical – is one of them," said study’s lead author Schieman.