Skip to main content

Having power can make a job more satisfying, but psychological and physical problems that come with responsibility often undermine the emotional benefits of authority, according to a new study.

University of Toronto sociology professor Scott Schieman and PhD student Sarah Reid used results of a survey of 1,800 American workers in different occupations and levels of authority. People who directed the work of others indicated higher job satisfaction levels because they earn higher pay and feel their jobs that involve problem solving are more interesting and engaging than junior positions.

However, those with authority tended to report significantly higher levels of interpersonal conflict with others, Prof. Schieman says. "They're 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."

Story continues below advertisement

"In most cases, the health costs (of authority) negate the benefits," the researchers conclude in the journal Social Science and Medicine.

Flexible benefits a fast growing trend

Organizations that offer employees options in benefits may have an advantage when it comes to weathering economic highs and lows and retaining talent, according to a survey by human resources consultancy Hewitt Associates.

Of the 211 organizations surveyed across Canada, 60 per cent offer a menu of benefits and credits that employees can use to buy the coverage they prefer. That's up from 41 per cent of companies in 2005, when Hewitt last conducted a survey.

The majority of companies surveyed say they believe flexible benefits plans have enabled them to better contain costs through the recent economic downturn.

Age bias increasing,

study finds

Story continues below advertisement

Adding to the difficulty facing executives over 50 hoping to find a new job in a tough economy, age discrimination seems to be growing, according to two new surveys for the New York-based professional job search organization ExecuNet.

In one survey of 258 recruiters at executive search firms, 91 per cent said they believe age becomes a significant deterrent in a hiring decision when a candidate is over the age of 50. Just 5 per cent reported that age is never a factor when candidates are evaluated for a new opportunity.

These sentiments were echoed in a separate survey of 4,680 business leaders (with an average age of 50), which revealed 41 per cent believed their age was working against them in a job search.

"Because age discrimination is pervasive, often subtle and difficult to prove, the best defense is professional branding strategy that positions your experience as an irresistible competitive advantage," advises ExecuNet executive director Lauryn Franzoni.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct Licensing Options
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this resolved by the end of January 2018. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to