Over the last couple of decades, American work hours have been dramatically rising. Studies have shown that between 1969 and 1987 the annual hours worked have increased by 163 hoursfor the typical worker. Work by itself is not harmful. However, the work overload that can result from this trend can be a very great problem.
Work overload occurs when job demand exceeds humanlimits and people have to do too much, in too little time, with too few resources. Work overload is characterized by (a combination of) the following conditions:
* Long and difficult workinghours
* Unreasonable workloads
* Pressure to work unwanted overtime (paid and unpaid)
* Less breaks, days off and holidays
* Faster, more pressured workpace
* Increased, excessive performance monitoring
* Unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved with the available time and resource
* Additional, ofteninappropriate, tasks imposed on top of ‘core’ workload (more than one job).
Work overload is an important predictor of job burnout. It is also a major cause of work-family conflicts, because overworkedemployees have insufficient time to satisfy their nonwork roles of being a parent, a spouse and so forth.
Being overworked and being healthy are at opposite sides of the spectrum. Often, we are soengrossed with the day-to-day functioning and tasks at work, we fail to see the short-term and especially long-effects of being overworked.
In an ideal world, employees should not work any more than 40hours a week. In reality, we put in far too many hours at work without realizing that after a certain amount of time, work ceases to be productive and when energy lags, so does output. When workersare too fatigued from the long hours to be motivated, it is very counter-productive, for both the company and the individual involved.
One explanation for work overload is the combined effect of...