Next week is Work Life week, the brainchild of UK charity Working Families. Whilst it’s focus was originally parents, and the pressure work life can create on family life, the reality is, all of us can be at risk of overworking, and underplaying the impact this can have on our mental health.
The work culture in the UK is becoming increasingly demanding. Whether it’s officially increasing working hours, or simply the pressure to be seen to be available at all times, we all seem to be working harder.
Technological advancements eliminate the opportunity to “log off” or put down tools. Physically leaving the office at 5 pm doesn’t guarantee being off-duty. Are you still checking emails at 8 pm on your phone? The question is whether you do it willingly or due to perceived expectations from your boss.
Work and Mental Health
A Mental Health Foundation survey highlighted some interesting facts when it comes to overworking and our mental health.
For instance, did you know that spending more hours at work correlates with increased thoughts about it outside of work? Physically being present at work means you also invest more emotional and mental energy, even when outside the working environment.
All of this means that there is less time being spent on personal pursuits, whether that is leisure activities or quality time spent with family. Even when employees are physically with their families, they may be mentally absent. It does no one any good.
As working hours increase, so do feelings of unhappiness. The survey found that 27% of employees asked felt depressed when working long hours. 34% were left feeling anxious and 58% were irritable. Tied with this is the reality that 40% of employees felt they were neglecting other aspects of their life because of work.
The areas that are neglected will ultimately vary from person to person. However, it may include things such as neglecting their physical wellbeing. Long working hours pose challenges for personal well-being. Finding time for the gym or walking the dog becomes difficult. Additionally, scheduling a doctor’s appointment to address health concerns may be neglected.
They’re likely to be neglecting their social wellbeing too. Long working days, or being called into work overtime at the weekend, means limited time to be spent with friends or family. Perhaps the children are still asleep when they leave for work in the morning and they’re back in bed by the time they return home again.
These are just some of the potential perils of an unbalanced working life. They ensure personal lives are put under pressure. It is definitely why employers should do more to consider the needs of all their employees, and to start looking at ways they can make that work-life balance slightly easier.
Remember: we are People Matters because YOUR people matter.