Do you stay late in work more than one evening a week? Sure you’re killing it career wise, but what impact are these hours having on the rest of your life? What’s the real impact of working late?
In a study of 52,000 European employees, researchers from ESCP Europe and Cass Business School found that those who spent more time working reported higher levels of stress and fatigue, as well as lower job satisfaction. So are you really killing it career wise?
Your career advancement may suffer
It sounds odd, but your work can actually suffer by working longer. ‘We speculate that the quality of output may suffer when you’re working fast and putting in extra hours,’ says one of Dr Hans Frankfort, an author of the study. And it makes sense, if you’re working 12 hour days are you really producing your best work, or are you just wading through your inbox, ticking admin off your to do list? Experiment next week in work. Notice the difference between what you produce when you’re really in the zone and what you produce while you’re working after hours. The results may surprise you.
Your personal life will suffer
This is a no brainer, but have you ever really paid attention the toll working late has on your personal life? And we don’t just mean relationships. Sure you’ve less time to spend with friends and family, but you also have less time to spend with yourself. Less time to devote to hobbies, or to find a hobby. Less time to exercise, cook properly or even wind down enough to enjoy a good night’s sleep. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so if you’re not taking care of yourself other areas of your life will suffer.
Your health will suffer
Stress and exhaustion are not great for your long-term health, but have you ever thought about the effect working long hours is having on your drinking habits? If you come home from the end of a 12 hour day and pour yourself an extra generous glass of wine you’re adding fuel to the fire of not taking care of yourself. A meta-analysis of existing studies published in the British Medical Journal showed that long hours could drive people to dangerous drinking; those working more than 49 hours were more likely than those putting in 35 to 40 hours to consume risky amounts of booze (over 14 units a week for women, or over 21 for men).
So, what can you do?
Cut back yes, but also try to address the culture of staying late within your workplace. If you truly can’t get your job done in the normal working day, then your role needs to be looked at. Over work is a hangover from the recent recession which saw cutbacks affect all industries, with remaining workers expected to pick up the slack. But speaking up is the only way to make a change for the better. Look at your workplace, look at the culture and think about how you can work smarter not harder. Going home on time does not make you a less conscientious employee, but it will make you a better performing one.