It Pays to Love Your Job

Not caring about your work is bad for your health

Think it pays to not care about your job? Guess again. A new Gallup poll suggests that being emotionally detached from your job could be bad for your health. According to the survey, Americans who are disconnected for their work are about as likely to be in excellent health as those who are unemployed -- which is to say, not very.

Only  two in 10 people who say they don’t care about their work rated their health as excellent. The unemployed fared slightly better, with 22 percent reporting themselves in prime condition. This coincides with a recent study in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, which found that a bad job is as damaging to one’s mental health as no job at all.

Past research has shown that being out of work can jeopardize your health -- with good reason. Losing a source of income, social contacts and sense of purpose can lead to a host of issues, like insomnia, anxiety, depression and substance abuse. What's eyebrow-raising is that people who are gainfully employed, though un-invested in their day-to-day, suffer similar consequences.

Psychologists who study employee satisfaction know that the more engaged people are at work, the better their performance will be. They’re more productive, more concerned about their customers and are more likely to show company loyalty.

Still, I always wished I could be less emotionally invested in my work, not because I wanted to be an automaton on an assembly line, but because I can have a tough time letting office politics or demanding deadlines roll off my back. My emotions are very much influenced by my workday, so I’ve often envied those who check out when they clock out.

At a particularly stressful job, I worked alongside someone who appeared unflappable. He did his work when he wanted -- everyone else’s deadlines be damned -- and I wondered why he stuck around when he seemed to care so little. 

When I compare his aloofness to my continual fretting, I have a hard time believing his emotional health would be more greatly impacted. But, research bears out that people who are indifferent at work are more likely to burn out and suffer from stress-related illnesses. It all comes down to being energized and enthusiastic about your job. To find out how to perform better at your job without burning out, read iVillage’s piece on climbing the corporate ladder without losing sleep.


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