Having authority negates health benefits of higher-status positions, finds study

Employers should manage conflict, improve work-life balance to boost well-being
By Shannon Klie
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 11/15/2009

While managers enjoy several perks of the job, such as higher income and more flexibility, the negative stressors of being in a position of authority counteract any potential health benefits, according to a University of Toronto study.

Were it not for higher levels of interpersonal conflict and poor work-life balance, people with more job authority — those who have power over other workers’ pay, the ability to hire and fire and supervisory control over workers’ activities — would be healthier and happier than subordinates, said Scott Schieman, a professor of sociology and co-author of the study.

“The costs of job authority are important to keep in mind for overall well-being. While there are benefits, it is worth attending to key stressors like conflict and work-to-family interference because of their health impact on higher-status workers,” he said.