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Getting Along With Coworkers May Add Years to Your Life
Date:8/11/2011

By Denise Mann
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Aug. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Good relationships with your co-workers and a convivial, supportive work environment may add years to your life, new Israeli research finds.

Published recently in Health Psychology, the study tracked 820 adults with an average age of 41 who worked 8.8 hour days for about 20 years; a third of them were women. Employees who reported low social support at work were 2.4 times more likely to die during those two decades, compared with their colleagues who said they had a good social support system in the workplace.

During the study period, 53 people died, most of whom had negligible social connections with their co-workers. Lack of emotional support at work, in fact, was associated with an 140 percent increased risk of dying in the next 20 years, the researchers found.

"We spend most of our waking hours at work, and we don't have much time to meet our friends during the weekdays," co-author Dr. Sharon Toker of the department of organizational behavior at Tel Aviv University in Israel, explained in a statement. "Work should be a place where people can get necessary emotional support."

Dr. Toker and her colleagues surveyed the study volunteers about their relationships with their supervisors and peers.

They found that peer or informal social support at work was a more potent predictor of health and longevity than relationships with a supervisor or boss. This effect was significant among employees aged 38 to 45, but not in those younger or older.

The findings held up even after the researchers controlled for factors such as age, sex, obesity, smoking, alcohol use, blood sugar, cholesterol, depression and anxiety.

Study participants were also asked if they took initiative at work and if they had the freedom to make their own decisions. Men did better when they were given more control at work, while women with the sam
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