back to article Working overtime? Those extra hours might not be hurting your wellbeing after all – just don't tell Jeff Bezos or Jack Ma

Working too hard? Is that overtime making you feel like you're caught in the vice-like jaws of burnout? Well, keep on carrying on because far from negatively impacting your well-being, it might actually be good for you if you love your job. Or so says research from the ESCP Business School by Argyro Avgoustaki, an associate …

  1. MiguelC Silver badge

    If you're "caught in the vice-like jaws of burnout", working those extra hours is impacting your well-being, no matter how much you might love your job.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Donkey work

      The article doesn't go into any great deal about how conclusions were reached, but I thought it was long established that various biomarkers (concentration, memory recall, fat cells, cortisol, etc.) associated with long term conditions can consistently be measured with increased workload over time. I don't think there are hard and fast limits, but nearly everyone has them and most of us find out too late what they are.

      1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

        Re: Donkey work

        "long term conditions"

        Yeah. At first they choose to work overtime, the more the better. And everything is peachy. Then they get burned out. And their manager starts to flog them to keep the productivity up. If you call them in the first phase, they give one answer. If you call them in the second phase, they give a different answer.

        Hey El Reg: Please tone down the cynicism. For some of us, siesta is hard work. The longer my siesta, the more burned out I get. It's a vicious cycle. You should try to walk a mile in my shoes. They're over there under the hammock.

  2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    No s**t Sherlock.

  3. Citizen of Nowhere

    Just don't tell Jeff Bezos or Jack Ma

    As if they care whether it's harming you or not.

  4. the spectacularly refined chap

    But what's the motivation?

    I've been in places where overtime makes you feel better about work. Other places it makes no difference?

    What are you spending the additional time on? If it is on your own workload, whether that be an assigned caseload or what happens to come in, yes OT allows you to get top of things, attend to housekeeping and so on. It reduces stress because you can see yourself making progress. Ditto for project work, if you know you make progress to the goals with reference to any internal deadlines etc that ultimately destressed you. This assumes you are being paid of course, unpaid time to keep on top of workload quickly creates resentment.

    There are other places I've been where OT simply means more work gets allocated in which case it is neutral in terms of your work position. But could be bad if you need to de-stress.

    I know one place I've been was a real pressure cooker environment due to the management culture, but they seemed to think they could get away with this by throwing money at you - regular OT was triple time and when they really wanted you it was quintupal. Paradoxically you're then in a no win situation: you can't help but feel bad turning down £100/hour but you know it will make you physically ill if you exploit it.

  5. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    Does it matter?

    According to a Yougov survey, over 1/3 of us Brits think our jobs make no contribution:

    Hard to justify overtime to yourself if the job is pointless. So I wonder whether any of the people in the sample thought that.

    Of course that survey was published in 2015, so maybe things have got better since then.

  6. spold Silver badge

    Hmmm it's not just a story put out by an evil HR person?

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm

      Evil HR cat, if you please (or even if you don't please).

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sometimes it's just a job requirement

    Take a mediocre company like IBM. The only career path is through working massive hours and being on call 24/7. It doesn't really matter if you're any good at your job or what your job is. Just make sure everyone knows you're posted up 75+ hrs a week minimum. That's the only metric that goes into your performance review.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sometimes it's just a job requirement

      Career path? I never worked based on someone's touted or spouted "career path". I worked on interesting problems, or problems no one else could do, and had 'job' satisfaction of the accomplishment kind.

      As for 'path', well, that was determined by how well management responded. If they didn't notice, I left. (then they noticed...) If co-workers didn't notice, I left. (then they really noticed!)

      I didn't mind being pinned down by a problem until it was fixed. I do mind being pinned down by problem management, 'cause you can't fix that.

      1. FozzyBear

        Re: Sometimes it's just a job requirement

        I do mind being pinned down by problem management, 'cause you can't fix that.

        You can. It just requires a white van, a roll of carpet, a shovel and a bag of lime

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sometimes it's just a job requirement

          I really wish people would stop spreading this kind of misleading information. Lime preserves the body, which is not what you want to accomplish in this situation.

  8. IGotOut Silver badge

    Bullshit detectors at max.

    "Or so says research from the ESCP Business School... associate professor of Management and Almudena Cañibano, an associate professor in Human Resources Management.

    So someone wth a vested interested in HR, picks a carefully selected group and gets results HR and bosses like to hear.

    Having had a breakdown due to excessive hours and endless on call callouts I say FUCK YOU.

    Now in a poorly paid job, doing over time when I and only I, decide I want to, in an interesting role with very little stress. I could not be more content with life.

    If you hate your job, quit. Give up the stuff you don't need (I cope on a 1/3 of my old salary) and enjoy the one life you have.

    1. cookieMonster Silver badge

      Re: Bullshit detectors at max.

      Exactly this.

      I done it about 6 years ago, best thing I ever did. Mind you it was a very frighting thing at the time, but I’ve never regretted it.

  9. TomPhan

    If it's something you enjoy doing, and that's the only part you'll be doing, then you're not bothered about the extra time - but that's not realistic for most jobs because there's so many layers of bureaucracy involved that the instead of doing the coding (or whatever) you'll be completing spreadsheets and filling reports.

  10. Chris G

    I have lived in Spain for twenty years and I call mierde de toro on these survey results.

    Pressure to work stupid extra hours that are mostly unpaid is implied at minimum almost everywhere and being honest with your feelings is likely to put detours in your career path.

    I bet the survey was somewhat less than anonymous too. What kind of answers are you going to put if they can be linked to you?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Reminds of the staff well-being surveys here. Strongly imbalanced gender mix, so by answering age-bracket and gender there is pretty much only me there. Note to my manager: "I love my job and feel inspired by challenges! A judgemental work culture makes me strive towards perfection!"

  11. ShadowSystems

    500 test subjects? Is that all?

    That's a statisticly insignificant number so miniscule it might as well be zero. In order to have results with any weight to them, you need a pool of test subjects that numbers as high as possible, with millions or billions being a reasonable minimum threshold.

    "We asked 500 people if they liked being beaten with foam pool noodles filled with moldy tuna puree'." That's nice, but your sample pool is more akin to a thimble than a pool.

    "We asked 500 million people if..." will be a more statisticly significant pool from which to draw any meaningful conclusion.

    TL;DR: You need to ask more people to make your survey worth a damn.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They needed research to tell them that doing something you love isn't stressful? Really?


    The things we waste money "researching" because some people have no common sense to see the obvious.

  13. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Work shorter, work better.

    Now that I work less hours in my current job than in my previous one, I do more tasks and I'm more productive.

    I'm less tired and more focused. Add to this I've got a much better equilibrium with my personal life.

    Work to live, don't live to work.

  14. Joe Drunk

    Human Resources robot says working long hours is good for your health

    Human Resources robot works banker's hours so has never personally experienced overtime but is certain that drones love their company so much they will not only sacrifice all of their personal life for it but cheerfully accept their fate when mass redundancies are made.

    Silly Human Resources robot.

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