Researchers say that employees who stay at jobs out of a feeling of obligation are prone to several health problems, including exhaustion, stress and burnout.
"Our study examined whether some forms of commitment to an organization could have detrimental effects, such as emotional exhaustion and, eventually, turnover," study co-author Alexandra Panaccio from Concordia University in Montreal said.
"It may be that, in the absence of an emotional bond with the organization, commitment based on obligation is experienced as a kind of indebtedness - a loss of autonomy that is emotionally draining over time," Panaccio said.
The research found that employees who stayed at organizations out of either a feeling of obligation or a perceived lack of other job options were more likely than other employees to experience mental and physical health problems. Researchers based their findings on a study of 260 workers from a variety of industries.
The research also found that people with higher self-esteem were more greatly affected by a lack of employment options.
"When employees stay with their organization because they feel that they have no other options, they are more likely to experience emotional exhaustion," Panaccio said.
"This feeling, in turn, may lead them to leave the organization," she said.
Employers, however, can fight these problems by working with their employees.
"The implication is that employers should try to minimize this 'lack of alternatives' type of commitment among employees by developing their competencies, thus increasing their feeling of mobility and, paradoxically, contributing to them wanting to stay with the organization," Panaccio added.
The study has been published in the journal Human Relations.