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How Your Social Life at Work Impacts Your Health

Despite what all the grown-ups told you, whether or not you have a healthy work life doesn’t depend solely on what kind of job you have. A new study found that the extent to which you identify with your workplace and co-workers impacts your health and well-being.

In a meta-analysis covering 58 studies and more than 19,000 people, researchers discovered a positive relationship between organizational identification and health, regardless of the type of job you have. Meaning? Your relationship with your workplace affects your health.

The link between work identification and health is more indicative of a presence of well-being than an absence of stress. And although social identification furnishes both psychological and physical health, the benefits for psychological health are stronger.

Community support may contribute to these mental benefits, but so might the sense of meaning and purpose that people feel when they’re part of a social group.

We are less burnt out and have greater well-being when our team and our organization provide us with a sense of belonging and community — when it gives us a sense of “we-ness”.

But this isn’t just about you. The researchers found stronger health benefits when other group members also identified with the organization, meaning that your sense of well-being is even better when the people around you feel the same way.

Oddly, the study found that the link between organizational identification and health became weaker when more women were present in a sample.

We can only guess at an explanation for this phenomenon, but suggest that it may be due to the prevalence of “masculine” culture in the work environment.

This could mean that even when female employees identify with their team or organization, they still feel somewhat more marginal within their team or organization.

Having a healthy work life is about more than just your job. It’s also about the community you spend most of your waking hours with. A good workplace will foster things like team breakfasts, lunch walking groups and work sports leagues. If your company doesn’t have any of these, think about your health and consider finding one that does.

In what ways do your relationships at work affect your health and well-being? What are some things you do to help foster relationships at work? Have you ever felt alienated in your workplace? Let us know what you think in the comments section!