While the ability to work remotely has made it easier for people to chase their dreams, travel while pursuing a career, and tend to a family while getting the job done, it’s not without its flaws.
One of the main issues is that we no longer have boundaries between work and home life, meaning less time for self-care, decreased focus on family activities, and increased burnout.
In short, working long hours is killing us. Here are some of the negative impacts of working all the time is having on employees, and what employers can do to counteract it.
How Long Hours Impact Us
Working long hours has long been the foundation of the idea of advancing in one’s career. There are arguments to be made both for and against this theory. For example, if you’re an entrepreneur growing a business, eventually you’ll reach the place where your long hours will pay off. Alternatively, if you’re in an office job where there’s no room for advancement, your extra work hours amount to nothing. Working long hours to move ahead in your career is great if you can take a work hard, play hard approach to self-care.
How working long hours impacts one’s career is individualized, depending on the person and job involved. One thing is for sure though: working long hours can increase mortality rates by upward of 20%.
So how can employers offset this? By setting clear boundaries and expectations about when work hours end and counteracting long days by allowing for early dismissals following. Taking a more flexible approach to employee scheduling ( see: Online Employee Schedule Maker | Workforce Management) and finding opportunities to promote self-care. Encourage your employees to prioritize and determine if the long hours are helping or hurting. Finally, lead by example.
Sitting Ourselves to Death
In recent years, a lot of work has been put into researching how extended hours of sitting is impacting our bodies. Over the past few decades, society has seen an increase in obesity rates, heart disease, and other health-related issues. For scientists, this has become a chicken-or-egg debate, with no clear determination of what’s causing this phenomenon. Is it the increased intake of processed food? More sugar and less movement? In reality, there’s no one cause of the decreasing health of Western civilization, but one thing is for sure: we’re sitting ourselves to death.
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Before office jobs were the main form of work, there were far more laborers fuelling the economy. These people were required to keep moving all day with short sitting breaks. Now, the majority of employees have long days of sitting with short breaks for movement. Even if you exercise after work, the prolonged periods of sitting have detrimental health effects. It’s estimated that the more you sit, the more your chances for an early death. Even sitting two hours longer than the person next to you makes you 200% more likely to die earlier.
To impact change, you’ll have to alter the organizational culture within your workplace. Start setting mandatory break times. Remind your employees to get up and get moving. Again, promoting self-care will help, and creating reasons for your employees to get up and away from their desk.
Working long hours decreases the opportunity for positive social interactions and relationship building with family members and friends. While a retail worker may feel like they’ve had too much socialization over the course of a 12-hour shift, they haven’t had meaningful reactions that will improve their life at home.
Employers have a responsibility to deter employees from working from home after business hours or from staying late when the work day is done. Ensure your employees are productive during regular working hours so that they are on track to have everything done at the end of the day. If you have an employee who is constantly working overtime, there’s either a problem with their productivity during the day or the workload you’ve assigned them.
Encourage your people to work to live rather than living to work. Making that shift may ultimately save their lives.
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