Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Toll of Working Long Hours

People who work 55 hours or more per week have a 33% higher risk of stroke and a 13% higher risk of coronary heart disease, compared to those who work for 35 to 40 hours per week. These are the results of a study published in the medical journal ‘The Lancet’, by Mika Kivimäki and colleagues.

In this study, the authors combined results from different independent studies (meta-analysis) and analyzed data for 603 838 men and women who were free from coronary heart disease at baseline; and 528 908 men and women who were free from stroke at baseline. The mean follow-up for coronary heart disease 8.5 years and for stroke the mean follow-up was 7.2 years.The association between long working hours and the risk of stroke and coronary heart disease remained even after adjusting for factors like age, sex, and health behaviours.

To explain the increased risk, the authors suggest behavioural mechanisms like physical inactivity, higher alcohol consumption, ignoring symptoms of cardiovascular disease and repetitive triggering of the stress response.

What factors influence stress related to a job? Here’s a list:

a) Job strain: Work is highly demanding but the employee has no or low control over it.
b) Low social support at work.
c) Effort and reward imbalance: Employee perceives that the income/ status/respect do not match the effort that goes into doing the job.
d) Organizational injustice: Unfair treatment, disregard for viewpoints, lack of information regarding decision making.

A powerful way to minimize work related stress and to in-fact make it pleasurable is to develop a calling orientation with the work. People with a calling orientation perceive their work as intrinsically enjoyable and fulfilling. They do not work for the financial gain or status enhancement but permeate their work with personal and social meaning.

Does your work make you happy? If not, you might be risking more than just your satisfaction.

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