With employee burnout high and the Great Resignation looming, pioneering new research from the University of Louisville shows some likely drivers in workplace culture could impact more than just job choices — they could have a real impact on health.
The UofL study is believed to be the first to connect biomarkers for chronic disease risk to factors such as stress, employee capacity for work assigned, workplace physical and social environment and whether we see our work as meaningful. The findings are published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
These factors are part of a new concept the UofL researchers have coined “Work Determinants of Health,” which they hope will become a model for both employers and employees to better understand the health impacts of workplace culture.
“For a long time, we’ve assumed that workplace culture can impact our health,” said Brad Shuck, an author on the study and organizational culture researcher in UofL’s College of Education and Human Development. “This study shows, in biological terms, that assumption is true and improving our understanding of these links could help both employees and employers make better, more informed decisions that keep everyone healthy and happy in their work environments.”
In the study, Shuck and UofL Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute researchers Kandi Walker, Joy Hart and Rachel Keith asked participants to complete questionnaires on their well-being and work determinants of health factors, such as how engaged and positive or negative they felt about their work environment. Walker and Hart hold faculty appointments in the College of Arts & Sciences and Keith is a faculty member in the School of Medicine.