By Katie Warren
In the US, it’s common for people to speak with pride about their stressful jobs and long hours put in at work. Studies even show that American employees in the US tend to work longer, take fewer vacations, and socialize less on the job.
But according to a new study from researchers at the City University of London, working too hard can have a negative effect on your career and your overall well-being, as The Cut reported.
Researchers looked at the effects of overtime work and “work intensity,” or the effort put into work in a certain time period, on both overall well-being (stress, fatigue, and job satisfaction) and career outcomes (career prospects, job security, and recognition). Their data came from 51,895 employees from 36 European countries in a variety of industries.
“We were somewhat surprised to find that work effort, whether overtime or work intensity, did not predict any positive outcomes for employees,” Dr. Argyro Avgoustaki, assistant professor of management at ESCP Europe Business School and Dr. Hans Frankort, senior lecturer in strategy at Cass Business School, the authors of the study, told INSIDER in a joint email.
In fact, more work effort predicted reduced well-being and career-related outcomes.
Another surprising finding was the difference in effects of work intensity compared to overtime.
“Practitioners and policymakers worry a lot about long hours and overtime, yet our findings could imply that work intensity (i.e., the amount of effort per unit of time) might be the more pressing issue,” the researchers said.
They added that employees should become more aware of the potential limitations of long hours and particularly hard work.
“They should perhaps ask: is the extra effort really worth it?” they said.
Don’t feel like you need to be pushing yourself to the limit at work all the time.
“One way for employees [to counteract the negative effects of working too hard] would be to use their discretion and opportunities for mental and physical recovery, through breaks and hours off work,” Avgoustaki and Frankort said.
Avgoustaki and Frankort define discretion as “the freedom to decide how and when to perform the work.”
“The more an employee has such freedom, the more he or she can work in ways and at times that are relatively more convenient and productive,” they told INSIDER.
Employers should take it upon themselves to give as much of this freedom as possible to employees and be “more aware of the longer-term limitations of pushing employees to their extremes,” they added.
Avgoustaki and Frankort said that although they tried to account for any differences between employees when it comes to their work effort and outcomes, as with other scientific studies, it’s hard to be completely thorough.
“Therefore, our study must be taken as one among accumulating pieces of evidence, rather than as the ultimate test of the career implications of work effort,” they said.
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Originally published at www.thisisinsider.com.