Effect of Long Working Hours on Health of Employees
In terms of structure and length, working hours are among the most important and clearest aspects of the entire occupational exposures’ class that involves a work process. Work process refers to how work is organized and structured at the worksite level, the firm as well as the labor market. When employees work longer or for more hours, they do not necessarily give higher quality or more work. Actually, the opposite might occur with employees’ wellness and health as well as the organization’s wellness suffering accordingly.
The amount of the available literature that shows the effects that working for long hours has on different health results including acute reactions like fatigue and stress is increasing. There is evidence that suggests that when employees work for more hours their wellbeing and physical conditions are affected negatively. Working for many hours has been associated with hypertension, cardiovascular disease, fatigue, chronic infections, depression, musculoskeletal disorders, diabetes, overall health complaints as well as all-cause mortality. Several reviews and meta-analyses have been published and they summarize these findings. According to systematic reviews, working for many hours is possibly dangerous to the health of a worker or employee. However, there are conflicts and sparse in different areas of the existing studies.
Working for many hours is likely to have adverse effects on the health behaviors including sedentary lifestyle and smoking. It can also have long-term effects including gastrointestinal disorders, cardiovascular disease, mental and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Reducing the number of working hours can assist in the reduction of negative health behaviors of the employees. The aim of this paper is to examine the impact of working for many hours on the working situation and wellbeing of the employees.
- People are at a safer work situation when they work for few hours. Working for many hours is alleged to increase the risk of workplace incidents because it precipitates several intermediary conditions among the affected employees including tiredness, fatigue and stress. The trail that connects the demanding plan of work to working situation and finally causing workplace accidents can be mediated by several factors including working for many hours (Langeland, 2009). Once employees suffer depression after working for many hours, workplace safety is reduced and disputes can emerge among the employees which can cause an unsafe working environment.
- Reducing the number of working hours is also beneficial because it assists in the improvement of work-life and safety balance of workers (Nelen, Grip, & Fouarge, 2011). There are studies that summarize literature alongside econometric limitations that previous works had on the existing relationship between work-life balance and working hours. Employees who work for many hours tend to be unhappy about the time that they are devoted to work as well as the impact that this has on their home and family life. The finding of this study is that the work-life balance is poor for employees who work for many hours (Nelen, Grip, & Fouarge, 2011). Home life and work-life balance of employees who regularly work for many hours can be affected negatively. Employees may be fatigued after working for many hours. This may cause poor practices at the workplace and increased absence levels which may increase health risk of the employees and cause a bad work-life balance.
- Reduction in working hours assists in the improvement of the employees’ health condition. Working for many hours regularly may encourage issues that are related to the health of the workers making them slacken the workplace. Working for many hours can be the cause of deception, high blood pressure and disputes. All studies have suggested a positive link between working for many hours, fatigue, cardiovascular disorder, working time as well as a negative relation between physical health and the worked hours. Several empirical studies and reviews show a number of negative effects on health of extending working hours. Working for many hours is also linked to perceived poor health and more diseases (Wirtz & Nachreiner, 2010). Working for long hours is associated with not just the perceive entire health but with a number of distinct health issues that include psycho-vegetative impairments such as mental health, gastrointestinal disorders, vegetative symptoms, musculoskeletal symptoms, cardiovascular diseases and sleeping problems. These are problems that may be eradicated or minimized by reducing the number of working hours. The negative effects that working for long hours has on mental health and psycho-vegetative illnesses were demonstrated by Wirtz & Nachreiner (2010). According to their study, the relationships are almost linear between the worked hours or weeks and the reported depressive symptoms and psycho-vegetative impairment frequency.
The evidence that is currently available clearly indicates that working for many hours has negative effects on safety, work-life balance and health of the employees. Apart from having direct effect on the employee, working for many hours affects the public in general negatively. This can be seen in terms of patient safety, the environment or even social integration of workers. On the basis of safety considerations, the recommended number of hours that an employee should work is eight hours per day. Working beyond eight hours increases accident risk disproportionately.
Working for many hours in a day is only acceptable if there are rest periods that interrupt work. This prevents fatigue accumulation. On the basis of safety considerations and health, there are no maximum limits per week that maybe specified as appropriate. This is because a linear increase in health impairments that accompanies an increase in working hours may be depicted by a question that establishes a limit of the acceptable impairment of an individual.
Workplace depression maybe minimized by a reduction in working hours. Individuals are more likely to be depressed when working for many hours. Employees who work for eleven hours and above every day have their risk of depression doubled when compared to those who work for eight hours per day.
- Working situation should be made safe by a company through the establishment of a clear policy about working hours. It should set work hours per day and the maximum number of working hours per week to prevent employees from working past this time because this can cause them depression as well as cause a feeling that the working situation is unsafe for them. Essentially, the company out to establish procedures of long work hours per day where injury risk may be high. For instance, the procedures may require regular breaks, more so where the set limit is exceeded.
- It is also vital that the company ensure a better work-life balance for the employees. It should do this by providing flexible working hours, more so for the workers who may have difficulties while working during the usual hours due to alterations of personal circumstances.
- Working hours should be reduced through the employment of part-time labor which enables the company to avoid employing full-time workers in places where there are more than 40 work hours per week (Government of South Australia, 2010). Part-time introduction means that full-time workers will have reduced working hours. This assists in the reduction of health issues that are caused by working for many hours. Workers’ health should be assessed regularly in relation to the number of their working hours
Government of South Australia, 2010. Approved Code Of Practice:working hours.Safework SA. (Online), http://www.safework.sa.gov.au/uploaded_files/ACOPonWorkingHours.pdf
Langeland, B. 2009: Reported health differences between working and nonworking people. National Institute of Occupational Health, Department of Occupational Health Surveillance.
Nelen, A., Grip, A., & Fouarge, D. 2011. Is Part-Time Employment Beneficial for Firm Productivity? IZA Discussion Paper No. 5423
Wirtz, A. & Nachreiner, F. 2010. The effects of extended working hours on health and social well-being – a comparative analysis of four independent samples. Chronobiology International 27(5), 1124-1134.