How Many Work Hours Is Too Many?

LiveScience.com

Late nights and early mornings at the office may help your career prospects, but they can hurt you in another way. New research has found a link between overworking and the reduced well-being of workers.

Employees who worked more than 50 hours in a week suffered from decreased mental and physical health, the research found.

"We looked at the association between workaholism and physical and mental well-being," said researcher Sarah Asebedo, a doctoral student at Kansas State University. "We found workaholics – defined by those working more than 50 hours per week – were more likely to have reduced physical well-being, measured by skipped meals. Also, we found that workaholism was associated with reduced mental well-being as measured by a self-reported depression score."

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The problem becomes complicated, however, when looking at why workers choose to put in extra hours. Asebedo and her research team of fellow doctoral students Sonya Britt and Jamie Blue attempted to describe why workers might overwork by looking at Gary Becker's Theory of Time Allocation.

"This theory suggests that the more money you make, the more likely you are to work more,"Asebedo said. "It looks at the cost of time as if it were a market good. If you are not engaged in work-related activities, then there is a cost to the alternative way in which time is spent. Even if you understand the negative consequences to workaholism, you may still be likely to continue working because the cost of not doing so becomes greater."

Once workers begin to think that way they are at risk of falling victim to the negative health effects of working overtime, the researchers found. To help mitigate those feelings, workers should be sure to understand limitations at work. Additionally, workers can understand the role that work plays in their personal lives.

The research "Workaholism and Well-Being" will appear in the Financial Services Review.

This story was provided by BusinessNewsDaily, a sister site to LiveScience. Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.

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