Stress, Illness & Lost Productivity to the Modern “Typical Work Day”

According to Towers Watson, 89% of us feel our workloads are excessive, on top of which 64% of us experience undefined work hours due to technology. The typical work day is more than demanding – it’s draining and unhealthy for a typical person.

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health cites anxiety, depression, and disease as a result of workers feeling overworked and pressured. Both Manulife and Morneau Shepell add that mental illness disorders account for 25% of short term disability incidents, and 35% of long term disability. 

Stress hormones impact our entire body:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Increased blood flow to skeletal muscles
  • Increased blood sugar levels
  • Relaxed intestinal muscles
  • Increased blood pressure in arteries

Prolonged stress often leads to physical and mental strain, which hinders the way we perform our responsibilities. The Harvard Medical School found both absenteeism and presenteeism (physically at work but not fully productive) caused most by lack of sleep, depression, exhaustion, and back or neck pain. Other health-related causes of lost productivity like heart issues and headaches have far less impact. 

The Harvard Business Review calculated a loss of 4 hours per week or up to 30% due to presenteeism. Organizational factors that can be improved follow:

  • Unused sick days
  • Highly encouraged work attendance
  • Employment instability
  • Even more work upon return
  • Lack of teamwork
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