Posted by Lorraine Williams
June 7th, 2010 | No Comments »
As business leaders we demand a lot from work but we often forget about what it demands of us. The impact of overreaching ourselves physically, emotionally and intellectually is huge, and is even greater if we fail to understand what is happening to us.
A timely piece of research from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health adds a harsh perspective: people who work 10 to 12 hours a day are almost 60% more likely to develop heart disease or have a heart attack than people who work less than 10 hours.
The study of over 6,000 British civil servants aged 39-61, with no history of heart problems, tracked the effects of long working hours on coronary health over an average of 11 years. Accounting for conventional risk factors such as smoking, excess weight, blood pressure and high cholesterol, the research revealed that the overtime group tended to be at the younger of the participants, were likely to be men rather than women and in a higher occupational grade.
The research suggested that working overtime could affect metabolism or mask depression, anxiety and cause sleeplessness - a major stress contributor. It also explored a phenomenon called “sickness presenteeism”, whereby employees who work overtime are likelier to work while ill, ignore symptoms and not seek medical health.
In contrast, job satisfaction has a significant impact on the effects of long working hours. Those who enjoy their jobs and have a degree of control over their decisions tend to work longer hours just for the pleasure, and generally have a lower rate of Coronary Heart Disease than their less satisfied counterparts.
On that positive note I’ll leave the last words to Tammy:
It is the small realisations and sweet moments of reflection on genuine successes and achievements, on ‘what really matters’ in life and at work, that seem to ameliorate stress and build resilience.