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.
Improvements in technology mean that none of us really get the chance to “log off” or down tools. You may well physically leave the office at 5pm, but are you still checking and responding to emails at 8pm on your phone? When that’s the case, you’re never really off-duty. Perhaps even more importantly, are you doing it because you want to, or because you think your boss expects you to?
Work and Mental Health
A Mental Health Foundation survey highlighted some interesting facts when it comes to overworking and our mental health.
For example, did you know that the more hours you spend at work, the more hours you spend thinking about it outside of work? This means that not only are you physically spending more time being present at work, but you are consequently spending more time emotionally and mentally on work. Despite potentially being outside of the working environment at the time.
All of this means that there is less time being spent on personal pursuits; whether that be leisure activities or quality time spent with family. Even when employees are physically with their families, they may be mentally absent, which 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 make it difficult to get to the gym, or find the energy to walk the dog at the end of the day. Perhaps they’re not even finding the time to make a doctor’s appointment to get that niggling health concern checked out.
They’re likely to be neglecting their social wellbeing too. Long working days, or being called in to 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, which ensures 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.