It’s not the workload that’s making people hate their jobs—it’s the boss, according to Danish researchers

It’s not the workload that’s making people hate their jobs—it’s the boss

By Lauren Davidson @laurendavidson 9 hours ago

Overwork is one of the most common complaints of the modern professional. But it’s less likely to be a cause of workplace depression than being treated unfairly in the office is, according to new Danish research. “Our study shows that the workload actually has no effect on workplace depression,” Matias Brødsgaard Grynderup, PhD, a psychologist at Aarhus University and one of the researchers behind the study, told’s actually the other way around: depression can make the workload seem overwhelming and unconquerable. Through surveying and interviewing almost 3,000 public employees in Denmark, the researchers found that, rather than high stress causing depression, participants with lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol were at higher risk of depression.

“Depression can make work assignments appear insurmountable, even though the depression was not caused by the workload,” said Grynderup.

Depression in the workplace is a problem worth tackling: 200 million workdays are lost each year due to depression in the US, costing American employers an annual loss of up to $44 billion, according to the US government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Employers are starting to take action; earlier this month, a bevy of business bosses in Europe—including top executives from Barclays, Unilever and Royal Mail—launched a project to tackle depression in the workplace.

The bad news is that getting on top of your workload or passing a burdensome assignment to a colleague won’t necessarily alleviate unhappy feelings.

But the good news is that the key to a happy workforce is a fair environment, where employees feel that they are being treated justly and respectfully. That’s something within the control of managers.

”When the employees’ sense of justice plays such a central role in minimizing the risk of depression, this is probably the area that the preventive work should focus on,” Grynderup told “I recommend a management style in which there is a clearly expressed wish to treat employees properly—combined with a transparent organizational structure.”

That suggests one strategy for employers: keep piling on the work, just do it in a respectful way.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

One Response to It’s not the workload that’s making people hate their jobs—it’s the boss, according to Danish researchers

  1. I agree. Staff do wanted to be treated in a justified manner. When hard work is put in, we wanted to see their appreciation and the reward. It can take our motivation to a even higher level. Of course boss can also assigned tasks that is of value to the staff. The staff in turn will find meaning in his/her work and continue to stay happy and satisfied.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: