Those Long Work Hours Are a Killer!

Young stressed woman holding hands on head while sitting in front computer laptop

There just aren’t enough hours in the day. How many of us have heard or said this statement in the past week? Working beyond the 40-hour work week has become the norm for many American’s, but according to recent data, it’s a killer trend we need to reverse. How can a corporate health and fitness offering help to address this chronic workplace health issue? And, what solutions will work best as companies strive to rebound from the COVID pandemic?

What the research reveals.

The World Health Organization and International Labour Organization just released joint estimates from a global analysis study on loss of life and health associated with long working hours, and the results are alarming.

Read the full release here:

In summary, the study gathered data from 194 countries between the years 2000-2016. It concluded that working 55 or more hours per week is associated with a 35% higher risk of stroke, and a 17% increased risk of dying from ischemic heart disease. The risk relevance is compared to working 35-40 hours per week.

An occupational risk factor we can’t ignore.

Labeled as a ‘health hazard’, the WHO and ILO joint release states that “working long hours is responsible for one-third of the total estimated work-related burden of disease” and, “is the risk factor with the largest occupational burden”. When we at Corporate Fitness Works, talk about solving for the common health problems of today’s working populations, that makes this is a big one.

Working long hours attributes to other occupational risk factors on the rise, like sitting too much, poor diet, and stress. By and large, these unhealthy habits stem from employees struggling to manage their work hours and their health. We can help address these risk factors through workplace health initiatives, corporate fitness and wellbeing solutions, and engagement programs. The WHO/ILO release further defines working long hours as a “psychosocial occupational risk factor”, which means organizations need to look at workplace culture, perceptions, and model behaviors from the top-down to reverse a pattern of long working hours.

The COVID impact.

The WHO and ILO emphasize that the data from the study was all gathered pre-pandemic, and that COVID has placed a massive strain on businesses globally shifting the way most people work. Many employees are working longer to compensate for reduced workforce, and the increase in remote employees has made it harder for people to maintain healthy boundaries between work and home life. It is assumed that these factors are likely to cause the percentage of employees working long hours to go up, placing a larger segment of the population at risk.

Initiate a better balance for all.

Implementing strategies to help employees successfully balance work hours and health is important now as ever. The WHO/ILO press release recognizes that it will take interventions on multiple fronts; government, corporations, and employees, all doing our part to reverse the trend. As businesses reopen and welcome employees back to the workplace, we see now is a pivotal time to engage employees with flexible solutions that promote healthy work-life balance. To be most effective in today’s corporate environment, workplace health solutions need to meet the triple A standard: Adaptable, Affordable, and Accessible across a dispersed workforce.

Our insights from the corporate health and fitness industry reveal a hybrid offering that involves both virtual and onsite services is ideal. In terms of adaptability, affordability, and accessibility, a hybrid offering can be scaled to the needs of the working population as organizations and their employees continue to adjust and rebound physically, mentally, socially, and financially post-pandemic. Like an onsite fitness center, offering your employees virtual services provides a strong, visible statement that their health and wellbeing is a priority. Combined with scalable onsite services that can be ramped up as more employees return to the office, a hybrid model evolves with the organization consistently projecting the value of employee work-life balance.

Of course, to truly stop the cycle of long work hours contributing to employee health risks, this must all be backed by workplace policies, culture, and leadership advocating to unplug and take time for health.

Want more?

Click here to view a recording from a free webinar Fit To Reopen we recently hosted on Wednesday, June 9 at 2:00 pm ET. Our panel of experts addressed common concerns and provided guidance on how to prioritize employee health and fitness as part of your reopening plan. Panelists represented areas of employee health and engagement, organizational psychology, and corporate fitness operations and discussed how fitness centers are a solution for physical and mental health challenges that have occurred during the pandemic.

To learn more about how CFW can customize Virtual Fitness services and On-Site Management to meet the needs of your organization, submit a request for Discovery Call.