Performance-related pay possibly linked to chronic stress, higher risk of substance abuse, study finds

FILE-Employees work at their desks inside an office. (Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Compensation for on-the-job performance is what most professionals strive for.

And when you factor in the sacrifices made to receive bonus pay, it can be worth it for many, but it may also be detrimental to your health. 

A study led by a team at the University of Aberdeen Business School and the Institute of Applied Health Sciences in Scotland learned that employees receiving performance-related pay are more vulnerable to chronic stress, heart disease, high blood pressure, mental health issues, and a higher risk of substance abuse. 

Performance-related pay employees, specifically men, had higher levels of fibrinogen, a biological indicator connected to chronic stress, the study notes. 

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Researchers explain in the report a need for companies utilizing performance-related pay to consider implementing policies to mitigate worker stress. 

"Our study provides evidence for physiological wear and tear in PRP workers and is consistent with previous research showing they are more likely to have poor health, including self-reported mental health issues and cardiovascular health issues," Keith Bender, a professor for SIRE Chair in Economics, said in a university release. "For the first time, we also demonstrate that PRP employees — particularly men — have higher blood pressure and elevated levels of fibrinogen, both closely associated with chronic stress."

Dr. Daniel Powell, a co-author of the study, points to several factors for chronic stress in performance-related pay workers, including a need to put forth more effort at work, the pressure to work under time or performance goals, and stress resulting from uncertain income streams.

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The study concludes that using performance-related pay in the job market may still negatively affect workers and their long-term productivity while jeopardizing the worker's relationship with the company if employers aren't prioritizing employee well-being. 

This story was reported from Washington, D.C.