More Autonomy or You Die!

BY Courtney Huckabay
Featured image for “More Autonomy or You Die!”

Seriously, though. Research says it's so.

A recent study conducted by Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business found that those who work in high-​stress jobs with little control are more likely to die sooner than those who have more control over and balance in their work.

See? I told you. There's never been better evidence to motivate you to get your work-​life balance in order. Oh, wait. That's right. You don't have any control over it.

The study’s lead author, Erik Gonzalez-​Mulé, said in a statement: “These findings suggest that stressful jobs have clear negative consequences for employee health when paired with low freedom in decision making, while stressful jobs can actually be beneficial to employee health if also paired with freedom in decision making.”

"The study suggests there are a number of health complications that result from being micromanaged, many of which have a direct impact on the employee’s longevity," Jared Lindzon writes in Fast Company.

I know, I know. Your boss dictates your schedule. Your manager sets your work time frame. Company hours are company hours. All right, all right. Then let's focus on what you CAN control.

"For example, those in high-​stress positions with little control are more likely to be overweight, the authors suggest. When you don’t have the necessary resources to deal with a demanding job, you do this other stuff,” Gonzalez-​Mulé says. “You might eat more, you might smoke, you might engage in some of these things to cope with it.”

No. 1: stop doing those things. Instead, find healthy alternatives for dealing with stress and releasing tension. Try running, bowling, yoga, desk meditation, reading. You can control these activities.

No. 2: take your vacation days. They're written into company policy, so use them. Even if you don't go anywhere, use some days for "you time."

No. 3: ask for more autonomy. It's difficult. I get it. But your other option is, you know, DYING. Death.

You can avoid the negative health consequences if [managers] allow [employees] to set their own goals, set their own schedules, prioritize their decision making, and the like,” Gonzalez-​Mulé says. He believes that businesses should allow “employees to have a voice in the goal-​setting process.”

Schedule a time to talk with your manager(s) about deserving more autonomy. Bring examples of the goals you plan to set for yourself. Write up your schedule and bring it to the meeting. Demonstrate – through real examples – how you have successfully prioritized tasks and made solid decisions on your own. And maybe print out this study for a leave-behind.