Before you jump at the opportunity to work "four tens," make sure you know exactly what you are getting into. Having an extra day off might not be worth it, if you are even getting one. Working more hours may lead to health problems, including mental health issues and job burnout.
Longer work hours mean employees feel increasingly tired as the workday progresses, yet they are expected to maintain their efficiency. Additionally, for those employees who work in a stressful environment -- which many people do -- they are being exposed to that environment for longer periods of time. Plus, the time spent at work is taken from time the employee might otherwise use to relax or socialize. Work stress is believed to cause mental health, heart and stomach problems. The risk for these issues increases as the workday does.
In a study at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, people working an 11-hour day are at the greatest risk and were more than two times as likely to suffer from depression than someone working an 8-hour shift. However, the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Cincinnati, Ohio, reported that although working longer days increases the rate of depression by approximately 40 percent, it is generally due to sleep deprivation, which is commonly associated with the longer working hours. The "European Heart Journal" found that working 10-hour days increased a worker's chance of having heart-related problems by 60 percent. Theories suggest this correlation is stress related.
Utah state employees who chose a 10-hour workday did not experience an increase in job burnout and claimed to enjoy better work-life balance. However, on the days employees actually are putting in a 10-hour shift, not to mention commute time, most experience what would be described as a long, long day. So while they might enjoy having more days off in return for longer days, work days can become increasingly stressful and morale can plummet. The type of job and stress-level of the work environment likely plays a role in how longer days affect morale.
Unless you work with your significant other or best friends, longer workdays mean your relationships could suffer. When the girls hit the town, you might still be hanging in the office. Over time, you might not even get invited anymore since the word is out that you are always working. And if you have a family, you may return home just in time to fall over dead exhausted and have no energy left to play with your kids. Ultimately there is a trade-off. Days you work 10-hour shifts are going to be days where you have less time to spend with those people who are most important to you.
- Institute for the Study of Labor: The Mental Health Cost of Long Working Hours - The Case of Rural Chinese Immigrants
- PLOS One: Overtime Work as a Predictor of Major Depressive Episode - A 5-Year Follow-Up of the Whitehall II Study
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: Work Hours, Sleep Sufficiency, and Prevalence of Depression Among Full-Time Employees
- Forbes: Work less, Be Hapier
- ABC News: Working 10 Hour Days Hurts Your Heart
- Time Magazine: The Four-Day WorkWeek is Winning Fans
- The Delaware Employment Law Blog: The Pros and Cons of a 4-Day Workweek -- Cons
Sara Mahuron specializes in adult/higher education, parenting, budget travel and personal finance. She earned an M.S. in adult/organizational learning and leadership, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership, both from the University of Idaho. Mahuron also holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in international studies-business and economics.