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Flexibility and control from gig work might help improve mental health

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It is perhaps no surprise that the more people feel they have flexibility and control in the job, the bigger the chance you will see improvements in mental health.

This can be inferred from a new INSEAD Working Paper which correlated working in the gig economy with better mental health through an increase one’s belief in their self-worth and happiness.

The paper, titled “The effects of self and temporary employment on mental health: The role of the gig economy in the UK”, found these benefits to be “most significant” for women, older workers aged 40 to 64 and people without a university degree. On the other hand, they are less significant for men as well as younger workers aged 18 to 39.

To reach these findings, researchers in the study first matched UK workers’ health and demographic characteristics with travel and online search data. Next, they related the data to “booming services” including Airbnb and Deliveroo across the country,

It was then revealed that gig economy workers and freelancers “scored consistently better on mental health measures and reported having more energy than the general working-age population.”

In fact, when compared to the average employee on a General Health Questionnaire score scale of 0 to 36, it was found that being self-employed increases one’s mental health by eight points (33%). At the same time, temporary employment increases mental health by seven points.

Speaking about the mental health of gig workers, Mark Stabile, Stone Chaired Professor in Wealth Inequality and Professor of Economics at INSEAD, explained: “Self and temporary employment support the ability to concentrate, not being constantly under strain, confidence, belief in self-worth, and happiness.”

That said, Stabile and team warned that certain “precarious” jobs are still likely to offer less control and satisfaction, which could thus have detrimental effects on the workers’ mental health.

Stabile added: “This paper offers food for thought for employers, full-time employees, and unemployed worldwide. The more people feel they have flexibility and control in the job, the bigger the chance you will see improvements in mental health.

“The British gig economy may provide one example. But we need to help workers shape the way they earn a living everywhere.”

ALSO READ: 4 C&B trends we learnt at Employee Benefits Asia 2019

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