Global: Long work hours threaten our future

Long hours are bad for workers and should be curtailed for the sake of the workforce and the environment, an investigation by The Ecologist has concluded.

The environmental magazine notes: “There’s something wonky with the way we work. Those of us with jobs are stressed when we work, and fatigued when we’re not.”

The feature in the 1 September issue continues: “Many of us don’t feel we have time to interact with our communities. Forty-six per cent of Brits have described themselves as being ‘exhausted’ at the end of a day’s work. A similar survey by the Families and Work Institute found one third of Americans were ‘chronically overworked’.

“Less than a quarter of Brits are ‘satisfied’ with their work hours. But while some of us are shackled to a long-hours culture, unemployment has been rising.”

This reflects the findings of the UK’s national trade union federation TUC. The union body’s research found the UK workforce has too many over-worked at the same time it has lots of people struggling to survive because they are unemployed or under-employed.

Like the TUC, The Ecologist argues there is a strong business case for tackling long hours. It says “signs indicate that businesses too would benefit from decreasing working hours – the harmful impact of fatigue in manufacturing has long been established.” It adds that “the US Department of Labor has found that employees are generally more productive in the first five hours of their workday.”

The magazine says the environmental benefits of reducing working hours “could be considerable”, noting that if Europe mirrored the excessive working hours of the USA “carbon dioxide emissions would rise by 30 per cent.”

It concludes: “It takes time and energy to grow your own food, to gain confidence to cycle to work, to become an engaged and informed citizen. We don’t like to change our habits and when we are time pressured and exhausted, we are even less likely to do so.”

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.