Working long hours is not unusual. Whether you are trying to establish a career, set up a business, or you are hoping for a promotion, it is not unreasonable to assume that putting more hours in is the way forward. But is this really the case – or are you deluding yourself?
The definition of a normal working week is 40 hours. Anyone working a 12 hour day routinely works a 60 hour week, and if you add in weekend overtime, the situation becomes even more alarming. Unfortunately, this isn’t a rare occurrence. Lots of people work ridiculously long hours by choice or, often, because they have no choice. Indeed, for some people it’s a badge of honour to be seen toiling away in the office from dawn to late evening. HR managers tend to praise that but is it a good idea?
Many people who work these kind of hours will justify their behaviour by saying longer hours means they reach their goals in a shorter time frame. But what they don’t realise is that working longer hours is actually less productive, because research proves that working fewer hours makes us more productive.
The Health Risks of Longer Working Hours
You can probably get away with working stupid hours in the short term. Your body adjusts temporarily and once the task has been completed, as long as you take a well-earned break, you should recover with no ill effects. If the lengthy work days continue, however, in time you will seriously damage your long-term health.
Working long hours puts your body under enormous pressure. The stress affects your adrenals, which leads to increased levels of cortisone circulating around your body. This in turn affects sleep patterns: you are tired, but you can’t sleep. People who routinely work long hours are also susceptible to depression, drink problems, and in time, diabetes and heart disease.
Long Hours Are Not Cost Effective
Businesses where employees are expected to stay on the hamster wheel for 60+ hours a week have a higher employee turnover, increased absenteeism and more employees calling in sick. Not surprisingly, this costs the business money in a multitude of ways.
Furthermore, most people who are forced to work for long hours don’t actually spend every minute toiling away. In reality, these people waste time doing other things, so even though they might look productive sitting at their desk from 8AM to 8PM, they are not working diligently for much of that time. Keeping the office open for longer also leads to higher overheads because you are using more heat and light.
Introduce a Flexible Working Week
The solution is to implement a 40 hour, flexible working week. “No!” I hear you cry, “That won’t work for my business!”
Well consider the facts: a flexible working week will increase staff morale, increase productivity, reduce employee sick days and absenteeism. You will find it easier to retain valuable employees and attract new ones. In turn, this will help your business to grow faster – and continue growing.
Happy employees are productive employees, and if they have a good life-work balance, of course they are going to be happier. It’s not rocket science!