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Jackie Furey

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4 March 2019 Jackie Furey

Overworking employees is not healthy for their well-being, writes Jackie Furey. 

Despite the research that tells us we are less productive when overworked, we still seem unable to change. Why? Well, simply changing our working habits is easier said than done. 

To make a real change, employers must tackle this as a cultural issue. They must strive to understand and communicate the negativity associated with overworking and do their best to prevent it becoming the norm. 

I recently read about a large Japanese advertising firm being fined for violating labour laws. This is the same firm from which an employee committed suicide in 2015 to escape overworking. These deaths have become such an issue in Japan that there’s a word for it – ‘Karoshi’. 

To prevent overworking becoming the norm, the importance of employee well-being must continue to rise in all organisations and the old-fashioned perception of ‘those who work longest, work hardest’ must be abolished. If anything, working long days should be frowned upon and recognised as poor practice from the top down. 

Employers must have a stronger presence in defining working parameters and conveying to staff that there must be an agreed time when work stops. This may require harsh action such as banning work emails to enforce an ending to a working day. 

We must also become better at identifying the signs of overworking before they become an issue while managers learn how best to support staff and colleagues to manage their time and reach their targets within the hours of their working day. 

We need to be clear; overworking will not improve productivity and businesses must be brave enough to make leaps in changing working behaviour. They can do this by investing in their employees’ lives.

Jackie Furey is director of Where Workplace Works and chair of IWFM’s WIFM group