A healthy job is about more than just avoiding hazards, like dangerous material and machines.
Employees need respect, benefits, wellness incentives and control over their work, says L. Casey Chosewood, M.D., senior medical officer for the Total Worker Health program at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. “What matters equally is the quality of life away from work, and how we can protect and grow that.”
Blue-collar or white-collar, indoors or out; creative or mundane — every profession has its health risks. Some have dangerous working conditions, while others can slowly chip away at your mental and physical health with long hours, high stress and depressing work environments.
But these jobs aren’t hopeless, says Dr. Chosewood, who works to help employers of all industries and backgrounds improve their work environments. “When a company really invests in the wellbeing of its employees, almost any job can be made significantly healthier.”
And keep in mind that not all jobs fit neatly in a category. What makes you happy also contributes to your overall health, says DeZube. “One woman’s happiness is another woman’s misery,” says DeZube. Even red flags, like long hours and stressful environments, may be just fine for people who thrive on the energy.
“If I’m a yoga studio owner and wake up at 4 a.m. with a great idea for a new class, that’s healthy,” she says. “It’s not healthy when you wake up at 4 a.m. thinking negative thoughts about the boss or the job.”
Every job and employer is different, but there are ways to make any job healthier. Try borrowing strategies from our list of the best, then read on for the worst.
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