Worker dies after 30 hours of work

by Cameron Edmond19 Dec 2013
Over work and burnout are serious problems in many workplaces and the recent death of a 24-year-old writer has once again highlighted the issue.

New York Daily News reported Indonesian copywriter Mita Diran died following 30 hours of non-stop work for ad agency Young & Rubicam. The paper stated the young woman was known for tweeting about her busy work schedule and her final tweet on 14 December read “30 hours of working and still going strooong [sic]”.

Other posts on her social media pages – including Twitter and Tumblr – included:
  • “Tonight, I carry the keys to the office for the eighth day running … I’m still here. I have no life. Someone please take me out for drinks, kicks and giggles.”
     
  • “Alright, one full week of going home past 2am from the office. Ladies and gentlemen, I believe we just broke a record.”
Her father, Yani Syahrial, posted on social media platform Path that Diran had worked “over the limit”. After her death, an employee of Syahrial stated that over work and too much Krating Daeng – a Thai energy drink – contributed to her death, The Epoch Times reported.

HC previously reported on the deaths of Taobao sellers who worked non-stop, as well as an intern at The Bank of America Merrill Lynch who was working ‘around-the-clock’.

While the clear takeaway from HR for this is to make sure employees don’t stay back at the office for too long, controlling work hours of employees becomes more difficult when they work away from the office. In order to reduce this, Robyn McNeill of beatingburnout.com.au stated that employers must stop expecting their staff to be ‘on’ at all hours and answering emails.

“A lot of people carry their work with them 24/7. The culture has changed to where people think nothing of calling a person after-hours or whilst they are on leave,” she told HC.

Goldman Sachs has taken steps to encourage junior analysts to take weekends off and avoid suffering from burnout, such as hiring first-year analysts as permanent employees rather than contract workers so they feel more secure in their position.

“The goal is for our analysts to want to be here for a career,” David Solomon, global head of Goldman Sachs. “This is a marathon, not a sprint.”

Key HR takeaways
Hays Salary Guide 2013 surveyed 1,600 employers, and found that 63% said overtime had remained steady in their organisation, with 26% indicating it had been increase, in some cases by more than 10 hours a week.

In light of this, Hays suggested a number of methods employers can use to prevent burnout during high-stress periods:
  • Monitor and measure: Keep a close eye on the amount of overtime team members are performing, and if this is correlating with an increase in absenteeism or a decrease in employee wellbeing.
     
  • Consider raising headcount: If your staff are not responding well to the rise in overtime, you may need to bite the bullet and increase headcount. This will most likely decrease absenteeism and turnover while increasing productivity. This may be permanent, or you may be able to simply use temp employees during times when higher productivity is needed.
     
  • Use feedback: Actively encourage all managers to provide feedback to staff – this can include paid and unpaid rewards, as well as simply recognising the employees for putting in overtime.
     
  • Monitor business activity: By keeping on the pulse with the activity of your business, you can build a better relationship with your employees. If they understand the nature of the work, they may also be able to gear time off around slower periods.
 
 

COMMENTS

  • by Christian Hermann 19/12/2013 6:15:54 PM

    Overtime does nothing else then downgrading quality and productivity, in other words longterm competitiveness. Let's stay close to reality, regular overtime is often caused by business/project mismanagement, misguided client expectations, unproportional internal profit distribution, an abundance of fat cats or a wrongly adapted business model.

    Sounds to me that upper management incompetence is the cause of the evil. Self-throned barons have an intrinsic interest to establish that kind of "proof yourself"-corporate culture, letting the fresh meat swim overhours in a pool of grown sharks (and fat cats), playing god to the survival game, then picking the candidates who are true to the ideals of their heritage as their followers, further cementing the territory that they think they deserve.

    have seen it way too often!

  • by Cohn 6/02/2015 8:34:37 AM

    I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you create this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz answer back as I'm looking to construct my own blog and would like to know where u got this from. thanks a lot

  • by Michael 8/08/2016 1:29:44 PM

    A lot of overtime is undeclared by the individuals therefore skewing any analysis of the correlation of wellbeing and overwork rendering it a useless exercise. Remembering the vast majority of these individuals are contract workers.

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