Is your boss making you sick?

Having a bad boss can make work a living misery. But new research shows it could be playing havoc with your health as well.

If you’re feeling exhausted and stressed out at work, join the queue.

Latest ELMO Employee Sentiment Index data shows 46 per cent of Australian employees are burnt out, while a third feel overwhelmed by their workload.

And new research by Deakin University suggests your boss could be to blame.

Research author Dr Steve Swanson says the study links leadership styles to significant health issues including stress and burnout.

“Managers are not thinking about employees from a holistic point of view,” Dr Swanson says.

“Employee wellbeing is multidimensional – social, psychological and physical.

“Leadership should be about developing the whole employee, not looking at them as cogs in the wheel to further organisational objectives.”

How do you know if you’re burnt out at work?

According to the World Health Organization, employee burnout is a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress, typified by exhaustion, negativity towards your career, and reduced productivity.

Organisational psychologist Dr Michelle Pizer says burnout is more than just being tired or a bit stressed.

“If you’re exhausted even after a good night’s sleep; if you’re feeling cynical, negative, alienated or disconnected from your job; and if you’re not feeling as competent as you used to – if you said yes to these three things, it suggests there’s something wrong with your work environment, not you,” Dr Pizer says.

What are the health impacts of work burnout?

Nerio Baldini, senior consultant at Enable Workplace Consulting, says work-related mental health issues are common in Australia.

“A Beyond Blue study found 1 in 5 Australians take time off for mental health issues every 12 months,” he says.

“That figure climbed to 46 per cent in mentally unhealthy workplaces.”

Research also shows a bad boss can make you physically sick as well.

A survey of 3122 employees in Sweden found those who work for toxic bosses were 60 per cent more likely to suffer a stroke or heart attack.

And a meta-analysis of 279 studies showed employees who felt they were treated unfairly were more likely to suffer from depression, sleep problems, high blood pressure and weight gain.

How to spot negative workplace behaviour

Dr Pizer says gaslighting, white-anting and public humiliation are some of the more obvious toxic behaviours to watch out for.

“Basically, all the behaviours you’d associate with bullying and harassment,” she says.

“It’s the systemic, organisational ones that are trickier – lack of support, unreasonable time pressures, unmanageable workloads, unclear and inconsistent communication, and unfair or inequitable treatment.”

Ways to manage workplace issues

Tackle stress: use microbreaks, deep breathing, meditation and mindfulness to manage stress.

Set boundaries: limit interaction with negative co-workers and keep things strictly professional.

Work buddies: ask for support and advice from trusted co-workers.

Speak up: talk to HR and ask for help managing the situation.

Keep records: document all meetings and conversations.

Get professional help: if you are suffering from stress, seek professional help.

Written by Dimity Barber.