The health benefits of social business

overqualifiedSuffice to say, having too little education is generally regarded to be a bad thing, not least for our physical and mental health.  Can the opposite apply though?  What if we have too much education?

Now I hear what you say.  How can anyone have too much knowledge?  Ordinarily I’d agree, but in this particular blog I’m looking at those of us who have been in jobs where our skills weren’t being utilised.  Over educated in this sense is the age old trap of being over qualified for a job.

Researchers from Ghent University in Belgium wanted to test their hypothesis that people who are over qualified are generally not a happy bunch.

They analysed nearly 17,000 employed people from over 21 countries to try and understand their level of depression.  They found that those who were not tapping into their full skillset were at an increased risk of depression, with the main reasons being that they were not being sufficiently challenged at work.  Couple this with a lack of status and prestige and it’s not a happy picture.

It provides a fascinating contrast to the famous Whitehall Study that found that those in high status positions were significantly less likely to have a whole range of health issues.  Chillingly, life expectancy was also much higher the higher the greasy pole one climbed.

Another interesting finding in the Belgian study was the affect of a highly skilled workforce on an entire country.  They found that when a nation had many highly educated people, it had an inverse effect on the mental health of all with a university degree.

In countries where more education did not provide significantly more job security or salary, even those with degrees who had jobs that matched their skill level saw declines in their mental health on average.

“If the economic returns of education decrease, it affects the mental health of all the well-educated,” the researchers said.

Social business obviously has many benefits, but with its ability to tap into the skills and knowledge of employees, regardless of their official position or grade, it is perhaps worth advocates of it trumpeting its health benefits as well.

While people may start out with a job that they are overqualified for in the beginning of their career, they need opportunities to move upward in their field within a few years, or they could experience declines in mental health, Bracke said.


2 thoughts on “The health benefits of social business

  1. Hi Adi, a very interesting post and one that resonates – all too often I see people who are unhappy and unchallenged with their jobs. Your post also reminded me of a talk Richard Wilkinson gave on the effects of inequality on society and how it affects all within that society, similar to what you talk about in your post – – worth a watch if you have the time.. Looking forward to reading more..

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