“Work more…Do more…Deliver more” has increasingly become the mantra for corporate world. Working more hours to meet higher expectation is a common theme. The belief is that higher profits are delivered by having workers “do more with less.”
But perhaps this isn’t the case. According to Researchers at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and at University College in London that followed 2,000 middle-aged government workers in Britain, there is a direct link between overtime work and depression.
It’s no wonder why psychological disorders are an area of increasing concern to organizations. They are some of the hardest to diagnose and treat, and they are also the most costly to employers and contribute most to productivity losses, according to the CDD’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
And psychological disorders are not the only concern. Another study of the same University College group last year found a 67 percent higher risk of coronary heart disease among stressed workers.
This productivity paradox is not new. The average number of hours worked annually by employees in the United States has steadily increased, according to a Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention report, “Overtime and Extended Work Shifts.” American workers now surpass Japan and most of Western Europe in the number of hours worked, the CDC reported. American workers often pride themselves on their “work ethic”….but this pride often translates to disease and disorders that ultimately cost these workers, and their employers.
A psychiatrist in California, Dr. David Reiss, evaluated more than 10,000 “stress claims” through the California Worker’s compensation Program. His research shows a direct correlation between hours worked, and workers compensation claims. “The real issue is people are overworked and they get mad during projects, have conflict with their workers and it gets out of hand,” said Reiss. He goes on to say “Their sleep patterns are disrupted, they aren’t exercising…for people who work long hours, it takes a toll. Some are invulnerable, but most are not.”
Although few people realize it, employee health costs have now become the third-largest expenditure for U.S. businesses today, constituting a whopping eight percent of total compensation. And they are rising fast, more than doubling in just the last decade to more than $15,000 a year for family coverage. Of that cost, 73 percent is paid by the employer. Longer hours means increased health issues among employees…which translates directly to increasing healthcare costs for employers.
It’s an equation that both workers, and their employers, need to address.