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Work Place Climate, Depression and Job Searching

Allan N. Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: Apr 17th 2009

 Recent studies show that a poor workplace climate is linked to depression for many of those working in that environment.

Some of the conditions that make for a poor workplace environment are: Tension, Backbiting, Poor Team Spirit, Quarreling, Prejudice and many other factors.

A study was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Researchers questioned a randomly selected sample of 3,347 Finnish workers aged 30-64 in 2000 and 2001.

Employees who felt that team spirit was poor were 61% more likely to have a depressive disorder than workers with a good team spirit, says the study,  And, they were 53% more likely to have used antidepressants during the first few years after they were interviewed.

What doe this mean for you?

It is my observation that many people who are searching for jobs think of themselves as being interviewed by a prospective employer. The idea that escapes many people looking for jobs is that they should be interviewing the employer and the work place as much as they are being interviewed. People spend many hours per day at work and the work atmosphere is extremely important to one's sense of comfort, self esteem and well being. The study above supports this idea.

Naturally, at a time when the economy is in recession and many have lost their jobs it may sound rather empty or preposterous to suggest that the employed carefully pick where they work. Under many circumstances, any job is better than no job at all. Nevertheless, I want to suggest that, after this recession passes and more job opportunities become available, people carefully choose their work place in order to avoid feeling miserable. To accomplish this they have to ask about workplace atmosphere and have the chance to speak to other employees. I point this out under the theory that it is always better to feel some sense of control over life situations than no control at all.

Naturally, employers who want to have productive and efficient workers should do all they can to promote a positive environment at work.

This information is especially important for young people who are graduating from colleges and universities and looking to start careers. They must keep in mind that, in addition to salaries and benefits are the working conditions and atmosphere in the place they intend to begin their careers.

Your comments are encouraged.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

Readers who live in the Boulder, Colorado metro area, or in Southwest Florida may contact Dr. Schwartz for face-to-face consultation. He is also available for psychotherapy through Skype video for those who are not in Florida or Colorado. He can be reached via email at for details.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Not just for long-term satisfaction - malign - Apr 17th 2009

I have found that the idea that you are interviewing the employer to be extremely useful not just for getting long-term satisfaction out of the job, but just to get through the anxiety of the interview process itself.If I keep in mind that I'm interviewing them, it keeps me from getting self-conscious.  That extra clarity makes my answers more competent, because I'm answering from a position of strength.  After all, I have experience at what I do, all I need is that extra bit of confidence, knowing it's MY interview.  It even allows me to ask them questions, whether I care about the answers or not.  The important information is often in how they answer, not what they say.  And that insight can be fed back into one's own responses:  it matters most HOW you answer, not what the answer is.  And that can allow you to give an honest "I don't know", when that's appropriate.

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