Overworking - Bad for You, Bad for Business

Are you an over-worker? Do you find yourself waking up early to get a head start on the work day, working through lunch, or working into the evening hours: rather than spending time with loved ones? According to some studies, you are not alone. Many Americans have taken to the practices of overwork, to the detriment of their wellbeing and/or productivity levels. 


At Rist Roller, we care about the wellbeing of our family, friends, customers, wholesale agents, loved ones… including you, the reader! We’d like to explore this topic a little more in an attempt to assist our readers with a healthy outlook on work. 


Bills need to be paid; that cannot be denied. Banks and electric companies do not accept I Owe You notes – that much we can all agree upon. We can likely all agree that we also need to take time to rest and recuperate. 


Mother Jones shares: 


“For Americans as a whole, the length of a typical workweek hasn't changed much in years. But for many middle-class workers, job obligations are creeping into free time and family time. For low-income workers, hours have declined due to a shrinking job market, causing underemployment.” (2011) 


CS.Stanford.Edu sheds some light on the belief that overwork leads to decreased output. In other words: working for too many hours will do the opposite of what we hope. We will see decreased productivity when we push too hard. Below are two excerpts from an article titled: The Relationship Between Hours Worked and Productivity.


“First, it may be the case that employees simply become much less efficient: due to stress, fatigue, and other factors, their maximum efficiency during any given work day may become substantially less than what it was during normal working hours.”




“In other words, an overworked employee might, after a certain number of hours (or, perhaps, on the last day of the week) be so fatigued that any additional work he or she might try to perform would lead to mistakes and oversights that would take longer to fix than the additional hours worked. This sort of occurrence is clear and has been long-recognized in industrial labor: overworked employees using heavy machinery are much more likely to injure themselves and to damage or otherwise ruin the goods they are working on.” 


We have probably all experienced this kind of work load: feeling burdened to complete a project so we push ourselves to finish, even if that means skipping a healthy meal, getting exercise, or sleeping. We trade coffee or energy drinks for water and healthy diet options. In the end we realize that the work we rendered was less proficient, less stellar, or even – at worst – riddled with mistakes. After a good sleep and a good meal we feel refreshed and ready to tackle our tasks with a clear mind and a rested body. 


An article at MarketWatch.com (2015) titled “American workers are burned out and overworked” strives to shed some light on the issues of overwork. From ‘too much email’ and ‘inefficient meetings’ to ‘skipping their vacation time’ and ‘loud coworkers’ – this Staples study names several culprits for the great American burnout. They point out, however, that under a poor economy, most of us will push through the stress and overload of work, thankful to have any job at all. 


The Huffington Post blog (2016) highlights possible solutions to the dilemma of overwork: 


“Experts say the solution to a lot of health issues that afflict adults is simple. Shave off a few hours in the workday, or cut back the workweek by a day, and we could see significant improvements in our physical and mental health. Companies that have adopted an abbreviated workweek say their employees are able to achieve a healthy work-life balance and still produce at a level that is needed for business to thrive.”


Not convinced yet? Do you continue to find yourself pulled toward the status symbol of overwork? Perhaps CNBC can convince you to step back from your position of overwork martyrdom: 


“So-called ‘work martyrs’ give hundreds of hours in free labor to their employers every year, encouraged by always-on gadgets, work through nights, weekends, and vacations. Trading sleep or fun for unpaid work is obviously a bad deal for employees, but there's a growing body of evidence that even apparently "free" labor might not be a good deal for employers, either. Research that attempts to quantify the relationship between hours worked and productivity found that employee output falls sharply after a 50-hour work-week, and falls off a cliff after 55 hours—so much so that someone who puts in 70 hours produces nothing more with those extra 15 hours, according to a study published last year by John Pencavel of Stanford University. Longer hours have also been connected to absenteeism and employee turnover. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even has an entire website devoted to the effects of long working hours even if workers aren't paid for this extra time. It's not free, Pencavel points out.”


The Boston Globe tells us why Americans are so afraid to let go and take a vacation: 


“The number one thing people are worried about is work piling up while they’re away. I think we can all relate to that. The amount of e-mail that accumulates when we’re away can be truly overwhelming,” she said. 


What result does this render? 


“Fatigue sets in, rigidity applies, and all creativity and innovation are lost — both of which need time away for other activities to increase the probability of new ideas,” said Lotte Bailyn, an MIT researcher and author of the book “Breaking the Mold: Redesigning Work for Productive and Satisfying Lives.” “Unhealthy overwork costs companies money for healthcare and creates stressful and unrewarding lives, both of which detract from the good work they are supposed to be furthering.”


Circadian.com highlights the top 5 negative effects of high overtime levels: increased health problems, increased safety risk, decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, and increased turnover rates. 


In conclusion, we might say: All work and no play makes Jack – or Jill – an unhappy and unhealthy human being. In addition, the value of work decreases and productivity rates slide down. We encourage our readers to take time off, as needed, and to enjoy life! Head to the beach – or go fishing – read a good book – or meet a friend for lunch. Go on vacation with your family and laugh until it hurts (don’t forget to pack your Rist Roller!). If we cannot persuade you…let Hallmark do it. Kick back at the end of your work day and watch Chesapeake Shores: this family drama centers around a story of overwork and the benefits of slowing down (we were not paid to say this). 


We all need a little rest and relaxation now and again. Don’t be afraid to take it. 


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