Regardless of the reasons why someone works long hours there’s a developing body of research that suggests overwork does not help us. In the end, it actually results in the opposite outcome that those who work long hours are trying to achieve.
In a study by consultants for Erin Reid, a professor at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, managers could not tell the difference between employees who actually worked 80 hours a week and those who just pretended to. While managers did penalize employees who were transparent about working less, Reid was not able to find any evidence that those employees actually accomplished less, or any sign that the overworking employees accomplished more.
Even if you’re at your dream job, working long hours will most likely catch up to you and affect your job performance. You’re more likely to make mistakes when you’re tired and most of us tire more easily than we think we do. Research shows that only 1-3% of the population can sleep five to six hours a night without suffering some performance drop-off. For every 100 people who think they are longstanding members of the night owl club, only five percent actually are.
Work hard, drink hard. People who work more than 48 hours a week drink more heavily and are more likely to develop risky levels of alcohol consumption, the largest study of working patterns and alcohol finds.
Marianna Virtanen at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and her colleagues found from analyzing over 330,000 people those working 49-54 hours a week were 13% more likely to start drinking at “risky levels”. This is defined as 14 drinks a week for women, and 21 drinks a week for men.
In yet another piece of research, Virtanen and team found that overwork is bad for your heart. Workers who put in 10 hours a day were 60% more likely to have heart-related health problems than those who worked seven hours a day.