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Long working hours are killing over 700,000 people per year

A stressed employee

Working long hours is killing over 700,000 workers per year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The global study, which is the first of its kind, found that 745,000 workers died in 2016 from stroke and heart disease relating to long hours of work.

Shockingly, the research also found that working 55 hours or more a week lead to a 35% higher risk of stroke, and a 17% higher risk of dying from heart disease, as opposed to working between 35 and 40 hours per week.

Another key finding from the study suggested that almost three-quarters of those that died as a result of working long hours were middle-aged or older men. Many of these deaths occurred later in the life of the person working the long hours, suggesting that working long hours causes harmful long-term damage.

Working 55 hours or more per week is a serious health hazard…what we want to do with this information is promote more action, more protection of workers.

Maria Neira, Director of the WHO’s Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health

When considering the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, the WHO has suggested that the trend may worsen.

There is evidence to suggest that when countries go into national lockdown, the number of hours worked increases by about 10%.

Evidently, now is as important a time as ever to ensure that workers are given a manageable workload and provided with the skills and knowledge they need to take care of their own best interests.

What can employers do to help?

Organisations who have employees working long hours should firstly see if they can reduce the need for extended working hours, as it is evidently a serious health risk. 

It is an employer's responsibility to ensure that their staff are given a manageable amount of work in their given working hours. Prioritisation is a key element to fixing the issue of long working hours as it will allow employers to work with their staff to ensure that they are being as productive as possible. So what can employers do?

  • Encourage cutting out less important meetings that may not be necessary
  • Encourage staff to reach out if they are feeling overwhelmed and encourage staff to delegate certain pieces of work if possible
  • Encourage healthy working patterns, including dedicating certain hours of the day to taking calls and responding to emails
  • Establishing and encourage a 9-5 working routine with regular breaks 
  • Don't give unrealistic deadlines, speak with staff to understand properly how long something may take
  • Provide staff with the tools they need to better manage their time, this could be software or training

Our Time Management Training course offers all levels of staff the information they need to effectively manage their time and to help them work efficiently.

It’s also crucial that employers educate staff on how to recognise signs of stress and mental-ill health, both in themselves and their colleagues.

By preparing employees with these skills, it increases the chance of issues being flagged early and gives the employer a better opportunity to offer support.

Our Mental Health & Wellbeing Training Bundle is designed to promote positive wellbeing in the workplace. It includes a number of courses that are designed to offer information on how the user can help themselves and those around them. Some of the most popular courses included are:

You can claim a free, no-obligation trial to the courses today or you can let us know your training needs by requesting a quote!

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