How important is how important you are?

I was listening to Professor Michael Marmot talk today.  He is an epidemiologist and studies what makes us ill / adversely affects our well-being, and to his surprise, discovered that they are one and the same thing. In seeking to find out what caused stress etc in the civil service, he discovered, against all his presumptions, that far from it being tough at the top and the stress of high powered jobs making more senior civil servants more ill, that the lower down the greasy pole you worked the more likely you were to suffer from ill health.  In other words, your well being was in direct proportion to your ability to control your destiny.

In a workplace that is growing increasingly more competitive due to the economic downturn, it means that more and more people are forced to take jobs on terms that they would otherwise not accept and this will in turn adversely affect their health.  For the individual the consequences are obvious, however, for the company, it means lots of hidden costs in terms of disruption and efficiency when they force people into doing things that they are not really best suited for or not interested in.  

So whether you are a boss or a minion, it is directly in your interest to ensure that you work in an environment that enables you to have some control over what you do.  Think about it, companies like Google encourage its employees to spend a day a week working on projects of their own choice, as a mean of encouraging original thinking and innovation.  The fact that it also boosts morale and well-being is just another plus.

From Yes Minister:-

Humphrey: Minister, a Minister can do what he likes.
Hacker: It’s the people’s will. I am their leader. I must follow them!

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