In America, we live in a capitalist society. In general, we determine each other’s value based on the amount of money we earn and how hard we work. A regular work week consists of forty hours, with many Americans working more hours than that. We go to work in hopes of providing for ourselves and our family. But consider the amount of time we spend working
Time Spent Working Per Week: Regular vs Overtime
If we work a regular forty-hour work week, we will spend approximately one-quarter of our working lives in the workplace. About fifty percent of our time will be spent at work or asleep.
The other fifty percent of our time must be spent commuting, getting ready for work, transporting our kids, cooking, cleaning, and doing everything else that we have to do throughout the week. This leaves very little time to take care of ourselves emotionally. The chart below provides a visual of how time is spent for Americans working a fifty-five hour work week.
In this scenario, Americans spend almost one-third of their time working. Once you subtract the time working, sleeping, and preparing for work, these Americans only have an average of eight hours of free time each week. But, they must also squeeze in all of their responsibilities before caring for themselves.
According to Research
According to studies conducted by Marianna Virtanen of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, overworking results in significant stress. This stress can lead to impaired sleep, depression, alcohol abuse, and heart problems. The employer will also face higher turnover, frequent absenteeism, and a higher cost of health insurance.
In another study discussed in the Harvard Business Review, research showed that impaired sleep resulting in six hours of sleep per night or fewer leads to higher numbers of work errors and accidents. It also affected the employee’s decision making abilities and judgment.
The bottom line is that overworked employees continue to work despite the toll it takes on their physical and emotional well-being. When employees work long, stressful hours, it reduces the amount of time spent sleeping and caring for themselves. This leads to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and issues with substance abuse.
What Is the Solution?
The best solution would be providing every working American with a livable salary for a reasonable amount of hours per week, but that solution may be out of reach. Because we live in a capitalist society that runs on money and efficiency, Americans will need to continue to work at least forty hours per week and provide the fuel that keeps this country going.
A better solution would be to hold our employers accountable for the mental and physical well-being of their employees. Many employers already assist their employees in obtaining health insurance, but that only goes so far. Now, employees have reliable access to medical care, but what about their mental health?
A fairly new program has begun to take root. This program could be the best solution available right now.
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
Employee Assistance Programs provide employees with optional, free, and confidential assessments. These programs also provide short-term counseling solutions, follow-up services, and referrals for further therapy. EAP’s provide employees with assistance in handling both work issues and personal issues.
The Benefits of an EAP
EAP’s are programs financed by the employer to assist their employees. The programs benefit employees in the following ways.
- Assisting with Marital or Financial Matters
- Assisting with Emotional Problems
- Coping with Loss, Divorce, and Depression
- Finding Care for Substance Abuse
- Finding Adoption Services
- Wellness Programs
- Obtaining childcare or elder-care
- Managing Problems in the Workplace
The list of benefits an EAP can provide employees is long, but the program is funded by employers. That can lead many employers to question how they can afford an employee assistance program. While it may cost the employer upfront, the effects will pay off the program in the long run. Take a look at the benefits and EAP offers employers.
- Lower Healthcare Costs
- Higher Efficiency
- Less Turnover and Training
- Reduced Absenteeism
- Greater Safety and Security
- Higher Employee Satisfaction
Providing an Employee Assistance Program
As an employer, you are accountable for the mental and physical health of your employees in the workplace. In many cases, employees risk their health and happiness working for their employer. Providing your employees with EAP services is a great way to be accountable,