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'Workin' Overtime' Ain't Necessarily Healthy

'Workin' Overtime' Ain't Necessarily Healthy


Back in the early 1970s, a rock band called Bachman-Turner Overdrive had a popular hit called “Takin’ Care of Business” that featured catchy lyrics which referred to “working overtime.” That’s exactly what assembly professionals have been doing lately. In fact, 79 percent of the 2010 State of the Profession respondents currently work more than 40 hours a week vs. 73 percent in 2009.


“As job cuts sweep the nation, people are working harder than ever to make themselves indispensable in the workplace—skipping vacations, bringing projects home and working weekends,” says John Liptak, associate director of career counseling and assessment in the Experiential Learning and Career Development Center at Radford University. “Yet, they may be doing more harm than good.”


Several years ago, a star engineer at Toyota Motor Corp.’s headquarters in Japan died from working too many hours. The 45-year-old man suffered from ischemic heart disease.


A recent study conducted by doctors at University College London and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health confirms that there is a direct link between excessive overtime and poor health. They discovered that people who work three or more hours longer than a normal, seven-hour day have a 60 percent higher risk of heart-related health problems than people who observe normal work-days.


“The balance between work and leisure is one of the most critical issues confronting today’s worker,” warns Liptak, author of Career Quizzes (JIST Publishing), which discusses the inherent dangers of working too much.


For instance, “workaholism” is a progressive disease in which people become addicted to the process of work. According to Liptak, it affects more than 1 million employees per year.


“What makes workaholism different from hard work is the obsession,” explains Liptak. “For workaholics, the desire to work is all encompassing. Even when they’re doing something social or as a hobby, they think about work. Their lives revolve around their jobs.”


As a result, people often encounter a variety of problems associated with workaholism, such as poor health, marital and family problems, stress-related diseases, and job burnout. To prevent such problems and reduce stress, Liptak encourages employees to be more aware of how they balance their work life and leisure activities. “By making balance a priority, people are more likely to achieve greater career satisfaction, which, in turn, can lead to greater success,” he explains.