expat late nights and working long hours

Staying Back Late At Work Isn’t Worth The Risk

Team Expat Health Leave a Comment

Singaporeans have a saying, ‘kiasu’, a Hokkien and Singlish word that means a grasping, selfish attitude. Derived from ‘kia’ “afraid” and ‘su’ “lose”, the term is literally translated as “afraid to lose”.

In more ways than one, this “never say die” attitude has seeped into the Singaporean way of life, from serious competition for straight A’s in school to feeling downright guilty when one clocks off from work at 6:00pm sharp. Sounds ‘kiasu’, right?

But the peer pressure remains powerful as ever, not just for hard working Singaporeans but also for highly driven expats based in Singapore who willingly respond to emails at all hours and donate much of their off-hours to work.

As Team Expat focuses on health topics this week, we thought it essential to remind ourselves why we all need to stand our ground, and insist on clear cut off times:

Working longer hours increases stroke risk by up to 30%

PARIS (AFP) – According to a recent research published on August 20, 2015, working 55 hours or more per week is linked to a one-third greater risk of stroke compared with a 35 to 40-hour work week.

The review of 17 studies covered 528,908 men and women over an average span of 7.2 years. Increased stroke risk remained once smoking, alchohol consumption and level of physical activity were taken into account.

The study, published in The Lancet, found that compared with people who logged a standard week, those working between 41 and 48 hours had a 10 percent higher risk, while for those working 49 to 54 hours, the risk jumped by 27 per cent.

Working 55 hours or more a week increased the risk of having a stroke by 33 per cent, the study showed.

Working longer hours is also bad for a company’s bottom line in the long run

Even the most slave-master of employers would concur from evidence that: cracking the whip actually costs the company more loss in terms of employee absenteeism, higher turnover, and rising health insurance costs, when employees have to put in excessively long hours at work.

History even disapproves of longer hours, so why are we repeating our mistakes?

We should have learned from business lessons discovered a long time ago. In the 19th century, when organised labour first made factory owners cut down daily working hours from 10 to eight, the higher ups discovered that output actually went up! Costly mistakes and accidents at work decreased.

Over a century later, Harvard Business School’s Leslie Perlow and Jessica Porter reinforced the truth in this experiment—this time with knowledge workers. They found: predictable, required time off (like nights and weekends) actually made teams of consultants more productive.

Now if unchecked workaholism is certified bad for our health, productivity and bottom-lines, isn’t it time we imposed strict cut-off times? Share with us your thoughts, expats.

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