Recently, the British Medical Journal released a study that concludes working long hours leaders to heavy drinking. Per the study, people who work more than 48 hours in one week drink more.
The study reviewed data on more than 330,000 people from over 14 countries. It also stated 14 drinks a week for women and 21 for men are considered heavy drinking.
Conclusions from the study are no surprise. Americans work longer and take less vacations than individuals in any other western nation. Achieving work-life balance is never easy and when life-changing events occur in families, like the birth of a child, serious illness or death of a close relative, people are afraid to take off from work and risk losing their jobs.
President Obama is proposing the “Healthy Families Act,” which would provide seven paid sick days a year for all American workers, but it probably won’t go far as a $2 billion incentive fund is needed to help states pay for the program.
There are jobs where workers have ample vacation, sick, and personal time, but employers frown upon it being use, because there is never a right time. This is extremely frustrating and near the end of the year when employers tell staff they must “use or lose” time, that’s unconscionable. Losing time is like throwing money away.
There are jobs that try to help employees achieve balance, but those are not the majority. Although the economy has supposedly recovered, it remains an employer’s market. If employees don’t adhere to the program, there are others waiting in line to replace them. This is, after all, the post-recession economy.
Drinking, for many, is a reaction to stress, and if people are stressed out by having to work long hours, not be available when their children need them and have no say in their lives, boozing it up is a way to relieve stress–although an unhealthy one.
Heavy drinking can lead to alcoholism, cirrhosis of the liver, domestic violence and child abuse. Although drinking is not the only response to stress, it is one of the worst, and sometimes those who engage in drinking do other drugs too.
As employers try to contain the cost spent on each employee for health insurance, sick leave, disability, and other benefits, they should consider the ultimate costs of high productivity, unreasonable work hours and no time off when it’s needed. Any of these could drive even the best of employees to heavy drinking.