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

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

Parallel Careers- the rise of “Moonlighting”

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Have you ever had a second job in addition to your full-time gig? Or have you ever needed two or three jobs just to get by?

A recent article in The Japan Times discusses the increasing prevalence of the parallel career, pertaining to those “who hold multiple jobs or engage in various activities in addition to regular work.” In Japan, many millennials are choosing to reduce their hours at their regular job in order to pursue their passions and make extra money on the side. Some companies are even encouraging their workers to do so, claiming that it increases morale and productivity in the workplace.

The nature of work itself has changed over the years, in part due to the recession of the past decade. It is no longer a sure bet to work for the same company one’s whole life, and that company in turn would give their workers full benefits and a pension. Instead, workers are “moonlighting” and taking on multiple part-time jobs to fulfill their needs. Monty Mumford for Forbes writes: “The changes in those nine years have been profound. The notion of the freelancer as an outsider, as somebody who is not trusted enough or somehow too flaky to be employed full-time, is now the Average Joe, leveraging his or her time by mixing and matching any number of gigs to bring in dollars and a living income.”

What do you think? Would you rather work one full-time job, or multiple part-time jobs?

Parallel careers grow attractive for millennials, as lifetime employment loses luster

Moonlighting Takes The Gig Economy To The Next Freelancing Level

Occupational Burnout

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What is burnout? It’s not just the result of working long hours on the job. Burnout can result from not feeling valued at work, lacking social support, and feeling out of control of your job situation.

Paula Davis-Laack for Psychology Today defines burnout as: “the chronic state of being out of sync with one or more aspects of your life, and the result is a loss of energy, enthusiasm, and confidence.” She outlines the six sources of occupational burnout as: lack of control, values conflict, insufficient reward, work overload, unfairness, and breakdown of community.

Problems at work can overlap into problems in your home life. Kenneth R. Rosen of The New York Times writes: “These stressors can manifest in outbursts against co-workers, violence or anger toward loved ones at home, loss of appetite and passion for things once loved, or being unable to find motivation for things that you were able to accomplish with ease.”

Have you experienced burnout at work before? Do you think this problem can be solved, or will it continue to get worse?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

How to Recognize Burnout Before You’re Burned Out

Six Sources of Burnout at Work

 

How many hours a week do you think is too much? What are you willing to give up in your personal life in order to achieve your career goals?

In Silicon Valley, the culture encourages tech workers to work as many hours as they can in order to help their company succeed. This problem is especially rampant with startups, where their livelihood hinges on garnering funding from investors.

This recent New York Times article linked here describes the phenomenon and the potential ramifications with overloading workers in the company’s quest to succeed.

Becoming a tech billionaire is a dream for many, but not all can do what it takes to achieve it.

“In Silicon Valley, Working 9 to 5 is for Losers”

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Tirza van Dijk

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