Is a toxic workplace worse for your health than unemployment?

In his Mashable post "A bad job is harder on your mental health than unemployment," blogger Stephen Bevan argues that bad work can threaten employees' productivity, social inclusion, and even health. His ultimate question: are we actually better off working?

"Good work" and mental health

Bevan associates mental health with being engaged in "good work," or having "control, autonomy, challenge, variety, and task discretion." And results of a Household, Income and Labor Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey in Australia say that being out of work is a bad thing: bad for income, self-esteem, dignity, social inclusion, relationships, and health.

As logic follows, getting back to work would then be a good thing. But not so fast. It's not just any job that supports mental health. "Being in poor-quality work which, perhaps, is boring, routine, or represents underemployment or a poor match for the employee's skills is widely regarded as a good way for the unemployed...

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A bullied Commonwealth employee only received help from Unemployment

I was employed by the Commonwealth as a BERS (Benefit, Enrollment, and Referral Social Worker) A/B from March-July 2015. My position was to process applications. I loved this job, and it was the best paying position I'd ever had.

At the beginning of June 2015, I was called in my manager's office and asked, along with two other members of my team (both men), to help "shadow" new hires (provide them with help). I and one of the men expressed some doubt as to whether we were qualified, but our manager assured us that Quality Control had monitored our work.

I began helping new hires shortly afterward. They sat with me, and I coached them through the applications process. The first day I began doing this, the woman sitting next to me walked out and never came back. She angrily said to me "I think I should have been asked to do the shadowing." I had considered this woman a friend of mine.  Another woman who sat diagonally across from me (I could stand up in my cubicle and...

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