Workplace Stress

The verdict is in - your job is killing you. More specifically, workplace stress is killing you.  

workplace stress

This means we’ve come full circle from our days as cavemen, when our biggest source of stress was finding food. Now we add to the mix worrying whether we can get from $50,000 per year to $100,000 per year in income.

Workplace stress is a disease of affluence. That means our own prosperity is killing us. Rather than worrying about whether we will eat tonight, we worry about whether our co-workers like us or whether we can meet the unreasonable expectations of life in a world of increased productivity.

Unless you are the one in six who live in poverty in America.

Productivity is the needle by which we are fed the stress. It is disguised as medicine: when one man does the work that two men used to do, he is engaging in a “noble” act as a hardworking American. Rather than “being in this together,” the workplace is a dog eat dog world where you must always be asking for more projects. You must always get that unreasonable assignment done one day ahead of impossible.

If you don’t, your job will be given to some other desperate soul who is willing to hustle in the name of upward mobility.

Ambition is a bitch.

Below is an infographic that was shared with me. You can make your own judgments about its findings. I think it is well made, though would have pushed for a 30 hour work week :)

I have spent many months of my life working 85 hour workweeks with no days off, 120 days in a row. I can attest to the toll workplace stress takes on the body and spirit. I recommend taking a daily office vacation.

Instead of clamoring to always be busy and working late, we all need to just…..


Bring Back the 40 Hour Work Week Infographic

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  1. I don’t disagree on stress being a killer, but should we really be comparing the USA to Europe? How about Asian countries like Malaysia, China and South Korea? Guarantee that a 48-hour work week is just for starters. Competitors coming up in the side view mirror may be closer than they appear.

    I also question the “happiness” survey. Scandinavian countries have much higher rates of suicide than the US.

  2. A rule at my work is that you don’t bring work home with you, and that you leave when you’re supposed to (and we’re salary so that’s even better). I’ve stayed around 30 minutes past what I am supposed to, but any later and my boss thinks something is wrong is me.

  3. The advent of the Blackberry/Smartphone is the final nail in the worker’s coffin. The standard expectation now is that one is connected to work 24/7/365.

    It all comes down to priorities, no? Do we value most money, GDP, granite countertops, big houses, fancy cars, and gadgets OR human relationships, family, a walk in the park, true wilderness, and quiet time.

  4. I’m a contract worker and am not allowed to work more than 40 hours. So I don’t really have to worry about working overtime. I have done it before at this job but it was because we had a major deadline and the brand new online purchasing system went up 2 months late so they had to allow it.

    I like my job a lot and if I had to put in a few hours here and there it wouldn’t add stress. If I had to do it every week? Then maybe it would drive me nuts.

  5. I don’t think the longer work weeks would be such an issue if people were able to take more time off without worrying about getting fired or laid off.

    Two weeks (10 days really) or less vacation each year is not a sufficient amount of time to recharge mentally, emotionally and physically.

    Many people who get more time off than the standard two weeks feel the need to check in with work everyday on vacation. (This is something I REFUSE to do)

    Working 10-12 hours or more a day with few breaks is sustainable for a limited amount of time, not indefinitely. Studies show most people do best when they work in blocks of 2-3 hours with a 60-90 minute break in between each work session.

    Interesting infographic, but I do question some of the data.

  6. I stay maximum 10 minutes after the leaving hour and just to wrap up the daily tasks. In the past I used to stay up to 3-4 hours ( without pay) just to learn and impress the manager. I stop doing that when I realize that nobody will build a statue with my name on it for working so hard.

  7. This is a great infographic. The ultimate challenge is to find something you enjoy doing and that will pay you a reasonable amount of money. Most people do hate what they do but they have to work in order to pay their bills and support their lifestyle. I’m not a huge fan of minimalism but there is something to be said for being content with your life and having a great work/life balance.

  8. Yet another example of how we, the middle class, are getting squeezed harder and harder. I’ve actually decided to take a stand over the last year and not bring home work, stay late, etc. Only you look out for you, so if I want my “me” time I’ve got to make sure I protect it!

  9. I had to comment on this, seeing as how this morning on my way to work I heard a news report about the world’s “hardest working” countries. The US, being one of them, simply because of the hours per week we spend working compared to other countries.

    After going to the sources website today, I see the report has nothing to do with “hardest working”, but rather countries that work the least amount of hours per week (with no bearing on hardest working). Of course, the US was not on the list at all, but someone chose to spin the info for a news story.

    Interesting spin that the US news places (CNN, Forbes as well) have put on this. Just because a country averages more work hours per week, doesn’t necessarily make them “harder working’. Even still, at what cost to our way of life? Do we live to work or work to live?

  10. It isn’t how many hours you work, it’s what you accomplish in those hours. I am proud to say that I got the job done and it wasn’t always in a 40 hour work week. Granted, I wouldn’t want to do as you did and work 85 hours a week with no end in site….that is a sure recipe for loss of productivity and burnout.

  11. My hardworking man definitely works more than 40 hours per week. Much more some weeks! He is committed to proving his worth, but it does take a toll on him physically and emotionally. When you leave at 6:30 and return at 7:00, you don’t have a lot of time to eat right or exercise, and he rarely even takes a break during the day, so no de-stressing is happening during those hours either! I think once the dust settles from all the big changes going on, he will be able to decompress a tiny bit and maybe even cut back to a more livable schedule.

  12. I wonder if this is going to be a boomerang. Will we all get so stressed out that the pendulum swings the other way? I’d hate to see gov’t legislation involved. The idea of “outlawing” more hours just doesn’t compute to me….

  13. You can really become sick because of stress? Next time I don’t want to go to school, I’ll tell my mom that I am stress sick! Haha, kidding.

    Also, that is a really cool picture!

  14. What is the point of “getting ahead” for many people, if the quality of life they have is horrible?

    No time for family, no time for exercise, no time to decompress. That isn’t a holistic way to enjoy life. The notion that many people have, that there is great nobility to burning the midnight oil and working long hours, is utterly foolish.

    I too have worked some insane hours over the years. I can’t even estimate how many days I’ve worked from early in the morning to past midnight, which is almost 2 full working days in one. It isn’t worth it.

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