The Perils of Being an Office Martyr: Why Working Long Hours is Detrimental to Your Health and Career
Employees that work long hours in the office are not uncommon. In fact, a Gallup poll found that in the United States, an average full-time employee works 47 hours in a week, several hours in excess of the regular 40-hour week. It was also found that almost one in five workers work 60 hours or more each week. The sad reality is, all this extra time and effort that people put in ultimately does not pay off. Instead, it leads to stress, burnout, mental health problems, and diminished productivity. In this article, we discuss the reasons why overworking is harmful and what you should do to prevent it.
It is bad for you physically.
The physical effects of overworking are numerous. It can lead to raised blood pressure, an unhealthy diet, and stress. Heart problems are not uncommon in people that put in too many hours at work. A combination of these factors may cause serious health problems. The researchers put together various results from studies and concluded that working too long hours at the office resulted in a 40 to 80 percent greater chance of heart disease compared to a regular 8-hour workday. To put it simply, working too much puts a significant strain on your body and increases the likelihood of serious health issues.
It makes you depressed.
The misery of overworking doesn’t stop at physical health problems. It can also impact your mental health. Employees that work long hours are at greater risk of depression. According to a new study, employees who work over 11 hours in a day have at least a double risk of a major depressive episode than employees who work the regular 7-8 hours in a day. Working long hours also means that people have less time for leisure activities that can reduce stress and help to boost their mood. As you can imagine, the combination of a lack of free time and excessive work hours can become a perfect recipe for depression.
It affects you mentally and cognitively.
Overworking also has an adverse effect on cognitive function. Someone that works long hours has a tendency to be less productive. This is because employees that work more than the regular 8-hour workday have a tendency to have cognitive issues. A study had found out that participants that worked more than 55 hours per week had lower scores on vocabulary tests than those that worked 40 hours or less in a week. There was also a significant decrease in the participant’s fluid intelligence between the tests. The cognitive drawbacks of long hours are an important consideration to make for anyone who wants to perform at their best. A sharp, productive mind is a must-have in almost any industry, so it is worth taking steps to avoid the mental fog that can come with overworking.
What you should do
The best way to avoid the negative consequences of overworking is to use your vacation days and avoid working more than the regular 8 hours in a day. The negative effect of overworking could greatly hinder your productivity and in turn affect your work in general. If it affects your work, then it affects the productivity of the company too. A Stanford University study found that employee output goes down after 50 hours per week and dives down even more after 56 hours. Similar studies have found that there is a relation between overwork and absenteeism, impaired decision-making skills, and long-term memory loss. Therefore, it is crucial to prioritize self-care and avoid the temptation to push yourself too hard.
In a separate report from the US-based campaign Project: Time Off found out that long-working office martyrs were less likely than their peers to have received a bonus in the last three years. After all, which company would give a bonus to an employee that is always absent because of sickness, always mentally and physically tired, and not productive? The truth is, in the long run, overworking does not pay off. In fact, it could end up hurting your career and prevent you from advancing.
Overall, limiting your work week to 40 hours will help you to be more productive, physically and mentally healthy, and ultimately more successful. Therefore, it is essential to prioritize your well-being and make time for yourself. Not only will this benefit you, but it will also help your company in the long run. Ultimately, the best way to thrive in your career is to balance your work and personal life, and avoid becoming an office martyr.