Stopping the 40 Hour Work Week

English: Ford Quadricycle by DougW of Remarkab...

English: Ford Quadricycle by DougW of at The Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, MI. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s 5:00 PM and your fellow co-workers have packed up their stuff to go home – but not you. You think by working longer hours a week that you are more accomplished than someone who only works a normal 40 hour work week. Your assumption is probably wrong.

You may be asking yourself, “Why is there an eight-hour work day in the first place?”

The answer: The birth of the Industrial Revolution. During the Industrial Revolution companies attempted to maximize the work of their factories by keeping them open as long as they could. That meant that typically, the work days were anywhere from 10 to 18 hours per day, six days a week. But a British man named Robert Owen started a campaign that suggested it was wrong for people to work more than eight hours per day. His slogan was, “Eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest.” However, Owen did not see his efforts come true; that didn’t happen until Henry Ford implemented an eight-hour work day in 1914 with the Ford Motor Company.

Working excessive hours can cause physical, emotional and mental issues. How you ask? Below are some key issues that are associated with working long hours:

1.    When you are so consumed by a project and you don’t want to take a break you think a quick fix is to start chowing down on junk food or ordering takeout. But over time the more junk food and takeout you eat and the less you exercise, you will start gaining weight and may develop health problems such as high blood pressure.

2.    When you don’t let your mind rest you can’t recharge your batteries and your work can actually suffer more. If you take a break from work and nap, listen to music, read a book, get a snack, exercise, etc. you can recharge your batteries and be more productive after taking a step back.

3.    You stop having a social life because you have a deadline to meet and going out for one drink with your group of friends for an hour will put you so far behind that you can’t take the risk.

A study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, shows that a combination of stress, raised blood pressure and unhealthy diets came from long working hours, which may be the cause of thousands of workers’ serious health problems.

Additionally, an interesting fact is that in Europe, there is an actual ban on working more than 50 hours a week. In six of the top 10 most competitive countries in the world (Sweden, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark and the United Kingdom), it’s illegal to demand more than a 48-hour work week. Maybe the United States will soon adapt something like this in the future.

Hopefully, this information will make you think more about your health and happiness than spending more time on your work.

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