Hard work never killed anyone or so the saying goes. but that’s apparently not true of the absurdly long hours that have become standard in today’s workplace.

According to a recent study conducted by researchers at Stanford and Harvard quoted in The New York Times, “working long hours increased mortality by 20 percent.”

Generously assuming that the lifespan of a worker today is about 100 years, that means that working long hours is cutting as much as 20 years of the average worker’s lifespan.

Some of the other findings of the study are almost as alarming:

  • Work-family conflicts increased the odds of self-reported poor physical health by approximately 90 percent.
  • A highly demanding job makes workers 35 percent more likely to have a physician-diagnosed illness.
  • Crappy management (euphemistically described in the study as "low organization justice”) makes workers 50 percent more likely to have such an illness.

Overall, the kind of high-pressure work environment that companies like Amazon have created are as bad for your health as second-hand smoke.

What’s ironic about this is that numerous studies have repeatedly shown that long work hours actually makes you LESS effective.

Working more than 40 hours a week only creates the impression that more is getting done, when in fact burned out people make bad decisions that require costly do-overs.

I really have to wonder what executives who promote the “Amazon” style of work environment are thinking… or whether they’re thinking at all.

Frankly, it’s probably going to take government regulation–similar to the movement in the 1930s for the 40-hour week–to inject some sanity into the situation.

I’m hoping though that before it comes to that, the entrepreneur community will stand up and say: “Enough is enough.”

No job is worth dying for.

Published on: Aug 25, 2015