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Are working hours affecting your people's mental well-being?

12.2.2018

For any organisation, the mental health of its employees is of of the utmost importance. Mental well-being has a direct impact on wider health, and stress and other triggers are known to be contributing factors to a wide range of conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

 

Working hours mental health impacts

 

In the UK, mental illness – on its own - is responsible for up to 40% of workplace absences. Taken together with the physical impacts of stressors, the productivity impact of low mental well-being is enormous.

 

The impact of long working hours in particular has been linked to various productivity-halting, workplace issues including fatigue. Here, we take a closer look at how long working hours could be affecting mental well-being and we explore what employers can do to ensure a mentally healthy workforce.

Long working hours and mental well-being

As well as preventing employees from achieving a better work-life balance, long working hours have a direct impact on health and safety according to the Health & Safety Laboratory. The research, which was carried out on behalf of Health and Safety Executive (HSE), found that in Europe 1 in 20 employees work extended hours, which equates to more than 48 hours per week. The same study revealed that UK employees work some of the longest hours in Europe, with the average working week consisting of 44.7 hours in total. These increased workloads and job demands may mean greater financial rewards, but can have dire consequences for your health and mental well-being.

 

According to the Mental Health Foundation, 27% of those working long hours feel depressed. The same survey found that 34% of individuals working long hours feel anxious whilst an overwhelming 58% said they felt more irritable due to their busy working schedules. Poor work-life balance often goes hand-in-hand with working long or extended hours, a problem that has a negative effect on many areas. Those with poor work-life balance tend to struggle with personal development, find it difficult to maintain relationships, and experience a wider range of physical and mental health problems.

Providing a healthy work environment

Employers have a part to play in creating a healthy work environment for all their employees. While reducing working hours is simply not possible for many families across the UK, promoting a message of better mental well-being is. Practising mindfulness at work, and creating a culture where this is possible, is another way to help people manage the stresses of work life. The UK-based mental health charity Mind provides a helpful introduction to how mindfulness can be used to improve mental well-being.

 

Mindfulness can also be used to build better habits at work. Companies can also develop, and put into place, policies that recognise the link between mental health and work-related stress. Working closely with employees to identify workload struggles and providing better training to managers to spot symptoms in individual employees is crucial.

 

Here at Mindfulness Works, we help organisations find ways to design, organise and embed mindfulness training and its outcomes. To discover how we can help, please contact michael@mindfulnessworks.com or phone 01223 750430