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Your overtime habit is making you ill. Here’s why

For many of us, working longer than the usual eight hour day is the norm

It’s well past 5pm and you’re still marching on with whatever task or deadline needs your attention.

Part of you is hoping to make a dent in the workload and part of you is hoping your manager notices the extra hours you’re racking up. But is your habit of working late presenting a ‘quantity over quality’ attitude, instead of lining you up for the promotion you’ve set your sights on?

The perfect balance between work and life is an age-old pursuit, but as we steer further into a hugely competitive, work-obsessed 21st century, it seems now more than ever, we believe that the more hours we clock up in the workplace, the more successful we become, no matter the risk to our health and happiness outside the workplace.

A Gallup poll recently revealed that the average American’s 40 hour work week has shot up to 47 hours, tacking on another full workday to the standard working week. Although this would equate to an extra full day’s pay for hourly full-time workers, salaried workers see no financial benefit from staying late in the office, and may instead be concerned with the career progression they think their excessive overtime will grant them.

However, career progression and brownie points with the boss shouldn’t be attainable only by working longer hours than your peers.

Research has proven that excessive overtime does not improve productivity in the workplace. As we try to understand how fruitless our late nights in the office may be in terms of promotion, it could be worth considering the impact that overtime is having on your health, both physically and mentally.

A study by Cornell University concluded that 10% of employees working over 50 hours a week reported severe conflicts in their personal life, with this figure jumping to 30% for those working more than 60 hours per week. Unsurprisingly, the study also noted the rise in divorce rates as the overtime increased. Physical health also deteriorates amongst those obsessed with putting in extra hours, with those working longer working weeks becoming more prone to developing lower-back problems and high blood pressure. This all begs the question: is overtime worth it?

If we want to escape this detrimental overtime rut, communication in the workplace is vital. Speak up if your workload is too heavy, and encourage members of staff at all levels to discuss their expectations of overtime.

After all, the quality of your work isn’t quantifiable by how many late nights you stay behind, and we can’t always assume the person leaving at 5pm is doing less work or lesser quality work than those choosing to stay late. Instead of desperately clocking up extra hours, we should consider commending those with excellent time management skills and a work-life balance that gets them out the door by 5pm sharp.

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