The dangers of working extremely long hours have once again been highlighted after the death of an Indonesian copywriter.
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.
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 organization, 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 recognizing 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.