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Research Shows Overworking Backfires

Working long hours has become the norm for most people. Of all the countries in the industrialized world, The United States is the only nation that lacks laws which require employers to give their employees paid sick or vacation time. Two weeks is the typically the standard and is treated as a luxury for most of us, whereas the rest of the working world is guaranteed around four to six weeks of time off per year.

Our reasons for overworking may stem from a number of factors such as ambition, perceived career advancement, the need for control, or to project the notion that we are indeed team players willing to go the extra mile. A multitude of research studies have revealed that overworking and the stresses that inherently follow can ultimately lead to some serious health, workplace and personal issues.

Here are 10 examples of how overworking can backfire:

1) Insurance costs are sick

As more employees become ill from overwork, insurance costs are sure to increase. With the rising costs of healthcare, this can seriously affect an organization’s bottom line. These days, employers are increasingly pushing a larger chunk of healthcare bills to employees who use their insurance, with benefits experts seeing few indicators of this trend slowing anytime soon.

2) Sweet dreams are not made of these

Overwork can be a nightmare for our sleep cycles. Stress, staring at computer screens, or simply not allowing yourself to “decompress” before heading off to bed can lead to erratic sleep patterns. A consistent lack of sleep, or “chronic sleep debt” has been shown to raise the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and obesity.

3) Unhappy hour

It can cause heavy drinking, leading to a variety of alcohol-related health problems as well. The resulting effects can turn into absenteeism, erratic workplace behavior, or damaged customer relations.

4) Actively inactive

Overworking also causes us to be less physically active, spending those extra hours at the office or working late instead of at the gym or outside, engaging in recreational activities.

5) Brain drain

When companies lose employees to turnover, they suffer from lost knowledge. A new hire can always fill the roles and responsibilities of a former employee, but they will never have the crucial “insider knowledge” that the previous worker had. That insight goes right out the window when someone quits.

6) Train wreck

Employee turnover also increases training costs.  A new hire must be trained to perform the same tasks of their predecessor, and that all takes the trainer away from their regular job. When this occurs, the company is essentially having to pay two employees to perform one job.

7) Communication breakdown

A recent study from Boston University’s Questrom School of Business revealed that managers couldn’t perceive the difference between employees who worked 80 hours per week and those who simply pretended to do so. Research has found that overwork can make it much more difficult to perform the everyday functions that our jobs require, including regular tasks, team communication, and decision making.

8) Feel the burnout

Working too hard can also cause us to lose interest or motivation and lose critical focus on our work. Research has suggested that as we burn out, it drains our energy, leading to feelings of hopeless, detachment and resentfulness.

9) A comedy of errors

Overworked employees are far more likely to make mistakes, costing the company money and time, and increasing the risk of workplace accidents. Overtaxed employees can lead to an increase in the breakdown of team collaboration, routine errors, and workplace hostility.

10) War of the worlds

Overworking can place a huge burden on the work/life balance that we all struggle so hard to maintain. The time we take to reset, relax, and spend time with those closest to us helps to disconnect us from our working life and be fully present in our personal lives.

In the end, the idea that working overtime produces more results is simply a fallacy. The more we adhere to this concept, we progressively damage ourselves and de-evolve as employees who can meaningfully contribute and lead our organizations.  More input does not equal more output.

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