"I understand that I gotta do what they tell me to do. Everyday I have no control". Perceived Job Control in the Canadian Forces and its Influence on Health and Performance




Farish, Tanis

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Members of the Canadian Forces (CF) have a distinctive work environment, where status within the hierarchy is clearly displayed on uniform dress and lower ranks are to dutifully obey the commands from above. The aim of this study was to explore the salient issues related to control for regular force non-commissioned CF members. Perceived job control has been associated with individual health and productivity; however, until now has not been explored in the military context. Surveys, semi-structured interviews, and a focus group were utilized to capture key factors influencing CF members’ (N = 29) sense of job control. Inferential statistics and thematic analysis were utilized for the organization and interpretation of the data. The results from this mixed method design found important workplace factors to influence the perception of job control, which stem from three interrelated areas: workplace characteristics, co-worker cohesion, and individual characteristics. The findings indicate the role of the supervisor is an important aspect of job control due to the hierarchical structure of the military. The members utilized individual coping strategies as a means to manage their working environment such as acceptance of their situation and adopting compromising behaviours, some of which are deeply embedded in the military culture. Co-worker cohesion was also found to be beneficial for CF members particularly during operational deployments, although the extent and type of cohesion remains unclear. Exploring job control from the perspective of CF members was important to elucidate the relationship between job control and health. Interestingly, the findings did not support a relationship between job control and job performance; this may be due the limited perception of performance in low control work settings. These findings argue for the implementation of policies and practice to improve health and performance in the workplace and must focus on several aspects of work design to include opportunities for employee support in and beyond the workplace, effective leadership practices, and the facilitation of appropriate coping skills for sustainable performance in the military work environment. These findings may have implications for similar work settings such as: law enforcement, emergency responders, factory workers, and some government agencies.



Health, Performance, Job Control, Military