The long-hours culture

Implications for health and wellbeing

Authored by: Marian N. Ruderman , Cathleen Clerkin , Jennifer J. Deal

The Routledge Companion to Wellbeing at Work

Print publication date:  May  2017
Online publication date:  May  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138955943
eBook ISBN: 9781315665979
Adobe ISBN:


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The modern workplace is not a particularly healthy place. The advent of email-linked smart-phones, global commerce and teams, and the global economic slowdown has put pressure on organizations to have staffing as lean (and cheap) as possible; subsequently, employees are working longer hours and taking on additional responsibilities, which in turn is taking a mental, emotional, and physical toll (Brom, Buruck, Horváth, Richter, & Leiter, 2015; Burke & Cooper, 2008). In short, the expanding workweek is becoming a modern-day psychological job hazard. Although it may not be as obvious a hazard as a slippery floor or faulty equipment, the downside to the trend of working longer hours is very real. The long hours spent working pose a significant threat to wellbeing (Van der Hulst, 2003) and health (Kivimäki et al., 2015), and in rare cases can even be fatal (Burke & Cooper, 2008). Moreover, while people often espouse long hours to increase production, contrary to popular belief, more hours at work do not necessarily lead to greater productivity (Pencavel, 2014).

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