Another fine article based on Karasek’s theory of job demand-control (that we have spoken of previously) and its impact on workplace stress and engagement, has been written by Prof Jeffrey Pfeffer at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.
He looks at two critical contributors to employee engagement:
If managed effectively, they can improve employee health, potentially reduce healthcare costs and strengthen the case for them as a top management priority.
Job control is about the amount of discretion an employee has to determine what they do and how they do it. It’s been shown to have a major impact on employees’ physical and mental health. Organisations can guard against this by creating roles with more fluidity and autonomy and by identifying and erecting barriers to micromanagement.
Research has long demonstrated a connection between social support and health. Having friends protects “your health as much as quitting smoking and a great deal more than exercising,” – you may recall our article on the health effects of loneliness.
Unfortunately, workplaces sometimes make it harder to build relationships and provide support, e.g. those that foster internal competition or pit people against one another weaken social ties among employees and reduce the social support that produces healthier workplaces. Equally destructive are "transactional" workplaces where people are seen as “machines”, without much emotional connection between people and their place of work.
Rooting out negative practices like these is a good starting point for leaders seeking to build environments with stronger social support.
Management practices that strengthen job control and social support are often overlooked but can reap ample rewards for employees and employers alike.