Kevin Dalby Discusses How Long Working Hours Harm Health, Productivity, and Society

On the contrary, extensive research suggests that a tired employee is drastically less effective than a well-rested one.

Kevin Dalby, Austin chemical biology and medicinal chemistry professor, witnesses the adverse effects of long working hours on students and employees on a college campus. Not only do overworked individuals have decreased productivity, but their health and surrounding community become impacted, as well. Dr. Dalby goes into further detail regarding this controversy below.

Impact on Health

The physical and mental health of an individual can be significantly impacted when not receiving a break, but rather more work. In regards to physical health, long hours can be draining on the body, and it is not suitable for the eyes to stare endlessly at a computer screen. Researchers at the Columbia University Medical Center have compared long hours of work’s toll on the body to smoking through their study published in Annals of Internal Medicine. Through their discovery, they found the shocking result that sitting for long periods is akin to smoking. An adult who sits and works for longer than thirteen hours a day is twice as likely to live a shorter life span than an adult who is inactive every day for eleven and a half hours.

Heart problems have also been found as a result of continuously working extensive hours. According to a study performed by researchers at University College London and published in the European Heart Journal, employees who put in regular overtime have an increased risk of heart issues. These heart issues are seen to develop at a forty percent higher rate over a ten-year time span for individuals who work fifty-five hours or more a week. These workers are more likely to suffer atrial fibrillation.

Impact on Productivity 

Mental health can have a massive impact on the level of productivity a worker produces. Those employees who lack a fixed work schedule are more prone to experiencing adverse effects on their cognitive abilities, according to a study published in Neurobiology of Aging. A work schedule that varies and results in long hours can lead to poor memory, difficulties in conquering learning curves, and impediments on daily decision making.

Lack of sleep plays a massive role in the harmful effects of working long hours. The average recommended length of sleep per night is around seven hours. This has decreased since 1910, when an average of nine hours of sleep was considered normal. An individual who does not get enough sleep regularly is more at risk for cardiovascular issues and stroke.

Impact on Society

Modern life is associated with rising mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. A contribution is consistently working long hours. The more stress workers put themselves under while laboring long days combined with not sleeping at night, the higher their chances of depression and anxiety. This chain of events results in greater possibilities for decreased productivity, poor performance, lower employee motivation, and an overall increase in health issues.

About Kevin Dalby

Dr. Kevin Dalby is a professor of chemical biology and medicinal chemistry, currently working on cancer drug discovery. At the College of Pharmacy at The University of Texas, he is examining the mechanisms of nature and cancer to develop new treatments, and teaching and motivating students to conduct research. Dalby is optimistic about the future of cancer treatments.

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