When Work Becomes Deadly

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Many of us feel overworked and overwhelmed on the job. However, sometimes this can be taken to the extreme. Today we’re going to discuss an issue from across the world- the phenomenon of Karoshi in Japan.

Karoshi– “overwork death” is an unfortunate trend of deaths in workers usually caused by malnutrition, stress, heart attack, and stroke. This trend has been observed since 1969, with the first death of a 29 year old man who worked at a newspaper company.

Last year, almost 2,000 Japanese committed suicide due to work reasons. This is an incredible high number for a preventable cause of death. Japanese government has made attempts to quell the problem, with proposals to cap overtime hours. However, it is too little to late for many workers and their families.

Japan is certainly not the only country to experience this tragedy. In China, it has been noted in China Youth Daily that 600,000 people die every year from overwork. That accounts to almost 1,600 per day.

This condition is known as guolaosi in China. Guolaosi is known as “death from overwork” in Mandarin. It can be partially attributed to the prevalence of mega-factories, producing global goods in cramped and polluted conditions.

Many believe that hard work is a virtue. But at what cost?

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Bloomberg News- China

CBS News – Karoshi Deaths

A New Take on Retirement?

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What would your career outlook be like if your employer determined what age you would retire at the start of your career with them? Would you have more hope for the future? Or less?

“One way forward would be to amend current law to allow employers and employees to agree on a retirement age at the start of a new job. The contract could specify that, after a certain age, the employee could be terminated without cause.” A Wall Street Journal essay from this week by Saul Levmore and Martha Nussbaum proposes a new take on the current dominant retirement paradigms.

A Money magazine from last year discussed the issue: “You’ve heard the horror stories about many Americans retiring with puny nest eggs and little income to live on. Still, data show that more than two-thirds of Americans are out of the full-time workforce by age 66.”

According to the CDC, the average life expectancy is 78.8 years. This indicates that on average, Americans are spending between 15-20 years in retirement. This is a huge strain on the current Social Security system, and for employers as well, as current workers pay for the pensions of retired workers. Is there a better solution?

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Let’s Agree on an Age to Retire

Average Retirement Ages in the U.S.: Probably Too Young

FastStats- CDC Life Expectancy

Vacation Time Unused in America

sea-beach-holiday-vacation.jpgHow many vacation days a year do you get at your place of work? Two weeks, none, or unlimited?

Today’s topic is paid leave in the Unites States – are American workers using their much-deserved time off? Research indicates that most Americans only take about two weeks off per year.

According to research from Project: Time Off, “By forfeiting vacation days, American workers gave up $66.4 billion in 2016 benefits alone. That means that last year employees effectively donated an average of $604 in work time to their employer.”

Why is this so important? The Project’s GfK survey data showed that: “Unused vacation days cost the U.S. economy $236 billion in 2016, due to lost spending. That spending would have supported 1.8 million American jobs and generated $70 billion in additional income for American workers. If the 54 percent of workers who left time unused in 2016 took just one more day off, it would drive $33 billion in economic impact.”

Not only does this have an economic effect on the country, it also takes a mental toll on the workers and their companies. Colleen Kane for Fortune writes: “when people don’t take time off to reset, their resulting stress and burnout can be detrimental to both workers and their employers.”

The benefits for employers for so-called “unlimited” vacation policies are illustrated in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal: “Employers say they like the policies because they can minimize staff burnout. It doesn’t hurt that they can save on costs, as the policies mean they no longer pay employees who leave the company for unused vacation days.” On the other hand, “unlimited vacation time isn’t a perfect solution to an overworked workforce. Employees can become more hesitant to take time off when they’re allowed to do it any time—and for as long as they desire.”

What do you think? Would you take unlimited vacation if it was offered? Or would you find it difficult to be away from the workplace?

Unlimited Vacation Time is a Lot of Work

Why Americans Just Won’t Take Time Off

The State of The American Vacation 2017

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Project: Time Off

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