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Local laws may not allow employees to sue their bosses for being bored at work, but research shows that boring jobs can have quite detrimental effects on the workplace.
In fact, a new study by Florida State University found both a lack of stimulation in the workplace and a dirty working environment can have a long-term cognitive effect on employees.
“Some of the things are those you can see or touch, and others you can’t. We showed that both matter to cognitive health in adulthood,” said Joseph Grzywacz, the Norejane Hendrickson Professor of Family and Child Sciences and lead researcher on the study in a statement.
In the past, researchers had been divided on whether it was working in an unclean workplace- facing exposure to agents such as mold, lead or loud noises or working in an unstimulating environment that took the biggest toll on brain health as people aged.
Psychologists have now found that the brain is a muscle, and hence it will deteriorate in health if not used optimally.
One key takeaway of the findings was the greater occupational complexity- that is the learning of new skills and taking on new challenges, resulted in stronger cognitive performance particularly for women as they aged.
“The practical issue here is cognitive decline associated with aging and the thought of, ‘if you don’t use it, you lose it,'” Grzywacz said.
Another major finding was that both men and women who had jobs that exposed them to a dirty working environment saw a cognitive decline.
“Both of these issues are important when we think about the long-term health of men and women,” said Grzywacz.
It seems working the consequences of working on a boring job is more than leaving employees sleepy and uninspired, its negative health impact is not to be underestimated. According to the Hospital authority, 5-8 out of every 100 persons in Hong Kong over 65 years of age suffer from dementia.
Researchers advised employers to design jobs to ensure that all workers have some decision making ability and provide a clean workplace in order to protect their cognitive function later in life.