A recent study by the University College London (UCL) found that those spending more than 11-hours at work have a 67% increased risk of having a heart attack when compared to those working an average 8-hour day.
A separate study undertaken by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health found that these workers are also twice as likely to suffer from major depression with a 2.5 higher chance of suffering at least one adverse depressive episode after six years.
“Research on the topic is prolific, indicating just how serious and widespread the trend has become. Already South Africa is regarded as the third most workaholic nation in the world with a 2011 study by Ipsos Global and Reuters finding that a mere 47% of the country’s working population take their allotted vacation days.
With a growing body of evidence irrevocably proving the link between long working hours and potentially life-threatening health complications, it becomes clear that corporate South Africa must take an increasing amount of responsibility for the health of their employees,” says Professor Jacques Snyman, clinical executive of Agility Channel’s Zurreal4employers programme, an integrated human capital management solution.
Workaholics must be managed
According to Snyman, workaholics must be identified early on and managed via an integrated, holistic and personalised employee wellbeing programme.
“Typically, these employees are more likely to ignore obvious health warning signs to avoid taking a day off and are less likely to seek medical advice, believing that the problem will simply disappear in time. It becomes key to proactively identify those at risk and refer them to a professional assistance programme before they become yet another statistic in a research study,” Snyman warns.
A holistic and integrated wellness programme that enables the overall management of employees will assist employers in doing just that. Key to the identification process is the integration of all assessment touch-points.
The Zurreal4empoyers programme, for example, takes into account all human resources data such as behavioural data like absenteeism, work hours and annual leave taken; clinical data collected from self-reported health assessments; and stresses in the home or lifestyle. The aim is to identify the workaholics and not leave them to their own devices to eventually seek help, as, by this time, it could already be too late.
“Corporates, and employees, must also realise that increased input almost never results in increased output. Typically, your best work takes place between hours two and six of a working day. By hour nine, you’re working at a fraction of your capacity and your productivity steadily declines with each passing hour as fatigue, and eventual exhaustion, sets in. In the long-term, you will get no more out of an 11-hour working day than you would from spending eight hours in the office. This must be the saddest finding of all as these individuals are exposing themselves to potentially life-threatening health implications for, essentially, no reason at all,” Snyman concludes.
(Press release from Agility Global Health Solutions)