On last year’s Go Home on Time Day, the Head of Public Health at the University of Adelaide, Professor Dino Pisaniello, says longer working hours are one of the many work-related risks for poor health. Here are some of the information he shared:
- Long working hours combined with work intensity are a known risk factor for poor health, especially cardiovascular disease, generally poor physical health, and fatigue
- Australians currently rank fourth for long hours worked among 34 OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) nations, and the figures show that one in five Australian men work more than 50 hours a week
- Studies also show that one in five Australian working men has a 40% increasedcardiovascular disease risk.
- Work that is worthwhile and valued is known to be generally good for people's health, but the modern work environment often does not always lend itself to supporting good health.
- Up to 40% of workers report that they work at very high speed for most of the time, work to tight deadlines for most of the time, and have too much work for one person to do
- Around one quarter of Australian workers also report that work frequently interferes with their ability to engage in activities outside work, which means they suffer from a poor work-life balance.
- Women consistently have higher work-life interference than men, regardless of whether they work full-time or part-time.
- Workers who ask for and receive flexibility have a greater work-life balance, which is important for their health
- Workers should take the opportunity to go home on time as much as possible to help reduce work stress and to achieve more life balance. This has the potential to make them healthier and ultimately more productive workers over the longer term.
Bottom line? Workers should try to leave work home on time as often as they can. Though it may be a challenge if you are constantly on over time, here are some tips on how you can beat the clock and regain work-life balance:
- Plan to leave earlier than you need. If you really want to be out of the door by 6pm, set 5.30pm as your deadline to get everything done – something will always crop up last minute to delay you.
- Make sure you’re prioritising. There’s nothing worse than staying late purely because everyone else is, or to do non-time critical work. Make sure if you’re putting in extra hours, you’re emphasising productivity.
- Get some fresh air – you might think you have no time to take lunch, but a short break can clear your head and have a real impact on the afternoon’s productivity.
- Start saying “no”. If your day is crammed, don’t be afraid to be assertive and highlight your workload. If you need to, engage your boss and colleagues to ensure the right work is prioritised.
- Don’t over promise; if you’re asked to do a task just before leaving the office, clarify whether it can wait until morning. Don’t jump to stay late, or offer to do it later that evening from home, unless it’s clearly time critical.
- Keep your distance. Only you can create and enforce your boundary between work and home life, and it’s so easy to slip and respond to your blackberry’s flashing light. If you find email encroaching into your evenings, set yourself a defined window to check what’s going on at work, and stick to it.
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