Health Toll on Bosses Negates Perks

October 27, 2009 ( - Being in a position of authority at work has its upside, but new University of Toronto research suggests bosses are more likely to experience certain psychological and physical problems that can undermine the benefits of the job.

While Sociology professor Scott Schieman and PhD student Sarah Reid found people with more authority at work earn greater pay and have jobs that involve more problem-solving tasks, making their work more interesting and engaging, they also report significantly higher levels of interpersonal conflict with others, according to a University of Toronto press release. Those who direct or manage the work of others, and have control over, pay and hiring and firing decisions are also more likely to encounter work-to-home interference, where stressors at work spill over into non-work domains like family and leisure time.

These factors increase the risk for psychological distress, anger and poor health, the announcement said.

The study used data from a national survey of 1,800 American workers in different occupations and sectors. According to a report from Reuters, physical health complaints included problems like headaches, body aches, heartburn, and fatigue, while psychological complaints included sleep problems, difficulty concentrating, and feelings of sadness, worry, and anxiety.

“Unfortunately, there are also downsides to job authority that undermine or offset the upsides of having power at work,” said Schieman, in the press release. “In most cases, the health costs negate the benefits.”