Could Good Working Relationships Add Years to Your Life?
Studies suggest that good relationships with your co-workers and a supportive work environment could add years to your life. In a trial involving 820 adults with an average age of 41 who were tracked for 20 years, researchers noted that those with low social support were 2.4 times more likely to die during those two decades than people who said they felt supported in the workplace. 53 people died during the course of the study and most of those had negligible social connections with their colleagues. This lack of support was associated with a 140 percent with an increased risk of dying in the next 20 years. We spend such a large proportion of time at work that it stands to reason that it affects our wellbeing in many ways. Work should be a place where you feel happy and supported, and if you don’t it can severely impact your mental and emotional health. Researchers found that informal or peer social support at work was a more potent predictor of longevity in life and relationships with your boss or supervisor. The effects were not as significant in younger or older people, but in employees aged between 38 and 45 it was a powerful result. The findings were still accurate when other factors were taken into account, such as sex, obesity, age and cholesterol. These results could offer a lot of promise for workplace wellness schemes that encourage people to enjoy a happier working environment.
The study involved asking the participants if they took initiative at work, and if they felt that they had the freedom to make their own decisions. Men stated that they did better when they had more control, whereas women with the same amount of control tended to have shorter lifespans. In particular, women who have a significant level of control over their working week were 70 percent more likely to die during the 20 year period, compared to people who didn’t. Researchers are unsure what these results mean, or how they affect a person’s lifespan, but state that women in positions of power may be overwhelmed by the need to play up to a powerful image at work, even when at home. Modern businesses were less likely to offer a supportive environment, too, in comparison to older and more traditional companies. This is because many people telecommute and communicate via email, so relationships are broken and there is less contact with co-workers. It was suggested that coffee corners where employees can sit and chat could help to alleviate this issue.
Being happy at work has been proven to help boost productivity and help people be more creative. They also get sick less often and make less mistakes, as they learn faster and worry less. Researchers are unsure which comes first – the happy employee or the supportive environment. In other words, are employees happy because they work in a supportive place, or does their energy multiply to create a happier workplace? Some companies are famous for their strong work/play ethic, and this is something that could be seen in many more companies to come with this new initiative to create healthier, happier people. Companies like Google have fun and vibrant workplaces, which encourage people to chat, communicate and boost their energy through their work. It is something that on the surface seems unnecessary, but this new study could put an end to the doubts. It seems that in order to live long and happy lives, we need to speak up more at work and make the most of the resulting energy.