Candidate Experience Stories: Working Too Much Too Often

In our series of “Candidate Experience Stories”, we speak to current and past job applicants and ask them what is something that they wish HR would take into consideration during the recruitment process. Today, we’ll be discussing another common unfortunate occurrence—overworking. If you’re interested in checking out the last installment, check it out here

We work a lot. Half of all salaried workers in the US report putting in at least 50 hours a week, and only 8% of full-time employees claim to work less than 40 hours. Long hours have been studied to deplete our ability to make choices for our health like sleeping early, exercising or something as simple as taking breaks throughout the day. With that being said, overworking isn’t always a sign of productivity or achievement, and it rarely leaves either companies or their employees better off.

Too Much Too Often

I’ve been working as an intern for a multinational company for about 9 months. Since day one, I’ve been getting emails and tasks assigned at 9, 10 or even 11pm, way after my working “day” is over. 

I’m extremely tired and depressed because I do not have a decent work-life balance. I cannot even schedule a coffee with a friend after work, because I’d have to postpone or cancel it 90% of the time. I hate it and am thinking about quitting to look for a different company culture. 

The Workings of Overworking

Many professionals live to work, work, work. And while working hard and for long periods of time can be rewarding, overwork does not correlate to better output. In a study of consultants that worked 80 hours a week, there was no evidence that employees who worked less than 80 hours accomplished less, or any sign that the overworking ones accomplished more.

The story of overworking is, in fact, one of diminishing returns. The resulting stress leads to all sorts of health issues, including poor sleep, depression, heavy drinking, and heart disease. Death to burnout and overwork is so prevalent in East Asian countries that they’ve even coined specific terms for it; you have Japan’s “karoshi”, China’s “guolaosi” and South Korea’s “gwarosa.”

A Quick Reassessment 

We all want to live vibrant and meaningful lives, both at work and at home, without sacrificing aspects of either. Work long hours when you need or want to, but do so consciously, for specified time periods to achieve specific goals. Make sure it doesn’t become a habit because you’ve forgotten how to work or live any other way. 

It’s important to take time to reconsider your current routines. Recognize when you are driving yourself and your team too hard too often, and learn how to help yourself and your colleagues take a few steps away from the edge.