As we all adapt to new working conditions, is it time we looked at how our jobs are affecting our health? We looked into health at work.
We recently wrote about the increase in productivity in those countries that have opted for a decrease in working hours or work days.
There are many factors that cause poor health at the work environment, including long hours. We are going to examine these based on diverse research by some of the most prestigious institutions.
Time and again research has conclusively substantiated the adverse effects of long working hours and work days.
Not only do these contribute heavily in the reduction of productivity but also to bad health.
Disease and Work
Research by the National Institute of Health showed that long working hours are detrimental to health.
Apart from causing chronic fatigue, stress, depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses, long working hours are known to result in other health issues such as cardiovascular diseases, hypertension and even brain stroke.
With each passing year, researchers go on proving that work related stress and mental strain are on the rise.
One research study showed that poor mental health due to the work environment accounted for anxiety and depression in 44% of all work related ill health cases and was responsible for as many as 57% of all working days lost.
The causative factors in addition to long working hours are tight deadlines, too much responsibility and inadequate managerial support.
Down The Drain
Added up, the result is billions of dollars are lost each year in terms of productivity lost and many more billions have to be spent on healthcare. All of this, mostly due to long working hours and poor management.
Some estimates show that the cost comes to 1% of national incomes. To illustrate the point, let’s take the example of just one country, the UK, which has a population of 66.65 million.
Much of the absenteeism is due to mental health and the country loses, based on estimations, about 91 million working days each year.
The UK itself, at present, has a million people on incapacity benefits because of mental health.
This should give one a view on all that is lost to the economy of the world, not counting how many invaluable lives are lost each year due to work related health issues.
How To Fix This?
Guidelines are constantly being drawn to avoid physical risks in the work environment. But what about mental health which seems to be the major issue?
Legislative acts must be drawn out by individual countries to make sure that employers are obliged to protect their employees and there must be consequences for those employers who fail to fulfil this fundamental duty.
The ramifications that employees face as a result of work related mental health issues are enormous.
For one thing, those suffering from mental health problems get dangerously disadvantaged in the job market once it comes out that they have had to seek medical treatment.
From within the disabled group, it has been discovered that those suffering mental health problems constitute the greatest percentage and a fairly large percentage of these cannot seek gainful employment.
Even those who are employed find themselves stigmatised and are often deprived of something as foundational as getting a mortgage.
The enlightened world we live in surely calls for a more holistic approach by employers. This can be elementary awareness that humans must be treated as humans.
A bit of self questioning might help. Are those long working days and working hours necessary even though productivity is compromised?
Does engaging with employees on a humane level actually help? Does fostering a positive environment contribute to better productivity and lesser mental health problems?
All that is called for is a human centric approach and this very quality may add to those bottom lines employers look for.
Working for yourself can be a great way to gain control! Here’s some of the best ways to do just that.
All your donations will be used to pay the magazine’s journalists and to support the ongoing costs of maintaining the site.