Wellbeing Wednesday: The Work-Life Balance Part 2

This is Part 2 of a three-part series. Click here to see Part 1: The Stats.

 

Part Two: The Research

The pressure is on.

With an average of 1,780 hours worked per year as of 2017, the OECD ranks the United States eleventh out of thirty-nine countries for average annual hours worked. Comparatively, average hours worked annually in Denmark in 2017 was 1,408, while Mexico topped the chart at 2,256.4 hours. Argumentatively, the United States is among the top 30% of countries that places value on a culture of MORE work. 

 

 

But does more hours spent at work actually equate to more work?

In a 2010 study published in Organization Science, researchers found that managers were not able to notice the difference between employees who faked working 80 hours a week with those who actually worked 80 hours. 

In fact, researchers have been very curious about the impact telework (remote working) has on work production, employee health, and financial well-being of the company. To find this out, Standford Professor Nicholas Bloom partnered with a Chinese Travel Agency made up of 16,000 employees to conduct a nearly two-year study of work-from-home benefits as compared to traditional office hours.

The study took 500 employees, half for a control group who kept traditional work hours and commuted, and half for a test group who worked solely from home. The attrition of telecommuters decreased by 50 percent, the company saved close to $2,000 per employee in office rental costs and employee productivity had a noticeable increase. Despite some legitimate concerns from remote workers feeling isolated, there is favorable evidence supporting that the option for work from home can have greater positive impact on employee work productivity, employment retention and company and employee finances. It’s easy to imagine the feelings of isolation an employee may feel when working remotely, but…

 

 

What about the impact on employee health when juggling work and life with a traditional work schedule? 

First, workplace illness and injuries exist. Non-fatal illness or injury may include: trips and falls, muscle strains, repetitive strain injuries, etc. Furthermore, current literature reports that an unhealthy work-life balance can cause health risks such as coronary heart disease, stroke, mental health disorders like depression and anxiety, and job burnout. A study on Burnout and Satisfaction With Work-Life Balance Among US Physicians Relative to the General US Population revealed some serious health concerns especially for physicians in specialties that place them at the front line of care for their patients. According to the study, one out of two physicians experience burnout, “characterized by a loss of enthusiasm for work (emotional exhaustion), feelings of cynicism (de-personalization), and a low sense of personal accomplishment.” This evidence especially suggests job burnout and decline in mental health. 

That’s where we’ll stop today. Stay tuned for part two where we dive into more research and the conclusion on a work-life balance!

 


 

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– CASEY EDMONDS, CHWC, CPT, CMS

Health Advisor  |