Overtime Means Late Projects and High Blood Pressure

By Christopher Hawkins •  Updated: 08/29/06 •  2 min read

I don’t think it’s any secret that working a lot of overtime means you probably have a lot of late projects bearing down on you. Who needs that? Well, it turns out that working overtime has another downside, one that’s a hell of a lot worse than slipping your release date; working overtime leads to high blood pressure.

It seems that the study determined that working more than 51 hours per week means you are 29 percent more likely to have high blood pressure, compared to someone who works 39 hours or less. Here’s an interesting snippet:

Interest in the topic began in Japan, they add, where a notoriously high-pressure work culture has given rise to a phenomenon known as Karoshi, or "sudden death from overwork." Today, Americans work longer hours than do Japanese, the researchers add.

Sudden. Death. From. Overwork. Holy cow.

There’s no way anyone is seriously going to be surprised by this, but at the very least we now have a study to point to that proves what we all know intuitively. I wonder if insurance companies are going to raise the medical premiums on companies that routinely send their employees on death marches? If the desire to keep insurance costs down won’t encourage companies to adopt more sensible project management practices, nothing will.

Of course, there’s a sick glimmer of hope for bad managers to use to justify continuing the death march methodology:

The researchers also found that hypertension was more common among clerical and unskilled workers than among professionals. This "suggests that occupations requiring more challenging and mentally active work may have a protective effect against hypertension," Yang and his colleagues write.

I can just hear the idiot boss now: “You’re a skilled worker, a professional! You do knowledge work! 100 hours a week won’t hurt ya!”

Don’t let your company work you to death.