As a growing child, I heard and witnessed some appalling, heart-wrenching stories/incidents which could have been avoidable. And, even as an adult, the stories are still unbelievable. It’s probably that it could have been avoidable that makes it worse. I remember this particular one; both parents are workaholics. They decided to hire a housekeeper, with the father’s brother’s support; let’s call him Lana. They thought with the uncle’s stay at their place, adequate care would be given to their children. Unfortunately, they thought wrong.
Lana and the housekeeper were shameless adults; they had sexual relations in the presence of the young, innocent kids and encouraged them to do the same. By the time the parents found out, it was all too late. The kids were addicted, and the brother eventually impregnated the sister. This is taboo, morally unjustifiable, religiously wrong, and a sin. But why do people choose long hours of work over family and their overall wellbeing?
Why do people work long hours?
The ideology of working so hard without a break to make it has been ingrained in most societies; this attitude is so bad that when nature calls and we fall asleep, we feel unproductive and lazy. But really, do long working hours make you more productive? How long of work is healthy? Or do we care so much about being a ‘zillionaire‘ that we are willing to jeopardize everything worth living for? What if the secret to being productive isn’t working long hours?
White-collar job isn’t making it easy on employees; one of the basic requirements for most jobs is working under pressure. The work environment and society judge your productivity level by the amount of time you spend working. The work environment glorifies long working hours, but does your physical and mental wellbeing glorify it? Does the havoc it wrecks in your relationship glorify it?
If we could recount stories of how long working hours have had adverse effects on family, marriages, relationships, health, and more, we’d be desperately willing to spend quality time after work before going back to it again.
The adverse effects of working long hours
- Broken ties with family and friend
I don’t think there is anything worth losing your family over. There are several cases of broken homes and broken friendships due to working overtime. Broken relationships could be slightly tolerable compared to the adverse effects working overtime has on such parents’ children. Many turned wayward, were sexually abused, and eventually became mentally depressed and miscreants in society.
2. Decreased productivity
Isn’t the reason for working overtime to increase productivity? But it’s however shocking that working overtime kills productivity. We think we’re working, but the brain has been shut down; the quality of work you produce will be very watery if you don’t relax your brain a while before picking up from where you stopped.
Study shows that the optimum working hours per week for productivity is 40hours per week, that is, almost 6 working hours in a day. However, every hour put in in over 40hours per week doesn’t breed productivity.
3. Overly stressed out
Working for long-overdue hours leaves a huge telltale on our bodies. The mind becomes overstressed that we barely have time to do other things. When stress sets in, other diseases are harbored. We become prey to various diseases, and we care little about people around us – people loathe you for what you’re doing to yourself. You barely have anyone to talk to because no one wants to be there for always physically and emotionally unavailable people.
4. High risk of heart attack
Many do not know that working long overdue hours could leave them with increased vulnerability to killer diseases such as heart attack. Studies show that people who work long hours have about 67% increased chances of the disease than those who work within the average working hours of about 7-8hours in a day.
5. Brain damage
Research has it that those who work for more than 55hours a week have a high chance of reduced mental skills, cannot recall words, short-term memory loss, amongst others, as opposed to those who work only for about 41hours a week. In essence: “Excessively long working hours can cause fatigue and physical and psychological stress, which potentially damage cognitive functioning.”
6. Higher risk of obesity
Another research has that people who work long hours are more susceptible to being obese than those who work for normal hours. A report says that: “Long work hours may be contributing to the rising obesity problem by reducing time for a physical activity…”
The mail online reports that “Obesity knocks 20 years of good health off your life and can accelerate death by eight years.”
A high level of depression could set in for people who tend to work more than the required hours in a week. As a result of long-overdue working hours, the worker has zero social life and finds it difficult to share happy and sad moments with loved ones.
8. Reduced hours of sleep and tiredness
Research has it that about 7-8hours of sleep must be enjoyed. Avoidance could lead to a high risk of severe health issues such as tiredness, diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, acute myocardial infarction, cerebrovascular diseases, and the like.
Studies also show that working long hours could increase cancer risk. According to an article in the British Journal of Cancer:
“Observational evidence suggests that working longer than recommended hours is linked to many behavioral cancer risk factors, such as excessive alcohol intake (Virtanen et al., 2015) and physical inactivity (Kirk and Rhodes, 2011; Angrave et al., 2015), possibly because individuals feel that they lack time to exercise because they spend extensive time at work (Escoto et al., 2012).”
Working overtime is avoidable. You could be working the normal hours of about 7-8 hours a day and be twice productive as someone who works overtime. Working normal hours enables you to create time for family and loved ones, and importantly, guarantees a better health status.
If you think long working hours are the thing for you, why not sit back and strategize on your working hours for a while and see how productive you’ll be.