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Workers with job flexibility and security have better mental health

Workers with job flexibility and security have better mental health

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American workers who have more flexibility and security in their jobs also have better mental health, according to a study of 2021 survey data from over 18,000 nationally representative working Americans.

The study, published Monday in JAMA Network Open, may not be surprising to those who have faced return-to-office mandates and rounds of layoffs amid the pandemic. But, it offers clear data on just how important job flexibility and security are to the health and well-being of workers.

For the study, job flexibility was assessed in terms of ease of adjusting work schedules, advance notice of scheduling changes, and whether schedules were changed by employers often. People who reported greater flexibility in their job had 26 percent lower odds of serious psychological distress, which was measured on a validated, widely used questionnaire that assesses depression, nervousness, hopelessness, and worthlessness, among other forms of distress. Greater job flexibility was also linked to 13 percent lower odds of experiencing daily anxiety, 11 percent lower odds of experiencing weekly anxiety, and 9 percent lower odds of experiencing anxiety a few times a year.

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