Is Your Job Killing You?


April 5, 2011

We’ve all heard the employees that say their job is killing them.  Well, some of them may be right.

In a study released yesterday, researchers from the University of London stated findings that, “working more than 11 hours a day increased the risk of heart disease by 67 percent, compared with working a standard 7 to 8 hours a day.” Their findings show that your time at work in addition to other heart disease risk factors like smoking or high blood pressure can all play a role in your vulnerability for heart disease.

Here in the U.S. where we’ve cut jobs due to economic factors, we have more employees working longer hours.  Over time, we could certainly see an increase in heart disease and other stress-related health complaints.  I spent the majority of my career in an environment where there was “expected overtime” for all exempt employees.  We tended to work as much as 500- 600 hours over the typical 2,080 hours per year.  That was our “normal”.  Luckily, I do not work in that environment now.  I have always put in more than 40 hours a week  (on average) though.

How are things where you work?  Are you finding yourself working more hours than several years ago?  Do you find it makes a difference if you are an exempt or non-exempt employee?  What health effects has it had?

Employees who work long hours are often a result of the organization’s culture.  The real issue becomes how to push back and not work those hours if that is the norm for the company or the department.




  • Yes, working more than ever, and making every moment in life count. Candidly, some of the up tick in working harder was good – things had gotten too staff heavy in my opinion – the current environment, while tough, enables lots of stretching, learning, expanding skills. All in all, I’m good with it!

  • In general, I would say that why the heart disease risk factors is higher during regular overtime is the fact that you have no time for exercise and you tend to eat much more “bad for you” food . Add to this that the compulsion to “make yourself not expendable” during economic down times will drive the healthiest person into the ground.

    In my industry, bad economic times make everything inverse of what happens to many companies during bad economic times: more workers are sitting around and leaving early.

    My only suggestion would be to use the mentioned study and translate it to dollars and cents. How much would the company’s health premiums increase with a chronically ill staff? How much lost production would be had with an overworked skeleton crew who fell ill from the increased workloads? Those are the questions I would pose.

  • I heard that report this morning. Eye opening but it makes sense. Hopefully employers will take this to heart, as will workaholics.

  • Trish,

    I like Mike’s response. Great attitude. I think much has to do with the individual’s perspective about their work and the culture they are working in. In fact, if you are interested, I wrote about how managers, the force behind the long hours, are the real threat (

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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