Is Australian workplace culture toxic? Part 2

Part one of this piece received a lot of people concurring with the themes that I had mentioned. The underlying pressure to work yourself to the bone at the complete detriment to your health, well being, family, social life and your emotional welfare is very real.  The aim of writing about these conditions is that I believe we can create real change in Australian workplaces.

Just as Australian culture has arisen awareness for the LGBTI community and for suicide awareness, this must now turn into a cause that everyone can get behind. One of the biggest reforms are moving to a 6 hour working day or 4 day working week. There is evidence to support my claim.

There is an emerging body of evidence suggesting that working more than 39 hours a week is detrimental to your health. Health being defined as your mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. Further research is showing the two-thirds of the Australian full-time work force are working more than 40 hours a week. How did we get to this? Especially when the Fair Work Ombudsman has laws that clearly state that 38 hours should be the maximum hours worked in a week. If ‘reasonable overtime’ should occur you should be compensated with either lesser hours prior or post the overtime occurring.

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The Ombudsman even states that it is reasonable to say no to your employer and refuse overtime if it effects your health and or safety. How many people would ever say no to their employer if they asked for overtime, especially if they knew by saying no, it could cost them their job? So Australian work culture has spiralled downwards into people trying to out-do each other in un-paid overtime hours to get ahead and its costing us everything else except our jobs.

It is my belief that by slowly decreasing your workplace full time from ’38 hours’ to 32 hours over the span of a few years, without changing pay and renumeration, we would see a drastic turn around in lifestyle related disease and illness. We are seeing countries like Sweden, Germany and France recommending shorter working hours to their staff and reaping rewards. Below are just a few that you could reap by working less.

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More time to dedicate to your health. Whether it be going for a walk, swim, gym or sport, shortening the working day would mean you could play a netball match and not have to schedule it for 9:10pm. Or if you did, it wouldn’t matter because you could start work at 10am and get your adequate 7 hours of sleep for optimal recovery. You could also learn to cook your food and understand how to nourish your body properly rather than buying everything and eating out all the time.

More time for family, social life and enjoyment. What is enjoyment? If you aren’t extremely passionate and in love with your job then it can be really hard to find enjoyment in your life. Not having time to devote to your hobbies and passions outside of work disrupts family life, relationships and your ability to feel a purpose in life. These basic humans needs are linked to people who suffer from depression and who attempt suicide.

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An increase in productivity. Do you ever feel that you work better knowing you had a deadline? How many times in a day do you find yourself staring into space trying to concentrate, or taking a break to look at Insta and Facebook. These lapses in your concentration are not uncommon or unheard of. Your brain can only concentrate on a task for so long, even less so when you are fatigued and stressed. Your decision making and vigilance will also decrease the longer you go without a rest. The shorter the working day the longer you have to rest and regain your strength for important tasks.

Your overall quality of work will be better. Ever heard of the saying ‘less is more?’ I teach many personal trainers coming into the fitness industry after leaving their full time, corporate employment. These people are taking ownership over being able to control the hours they work and balance their life. Now we all can’t (or don’t want to) be personal trainers and that’s fine, it’s the want to be in control of your life. Not spend it working day in and day out and at the end of it  all you have nothing except a nice house, if you’re lucky enough to afford that.

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Your body is the only one you get. The relationships you have in your life is what you will remember on your death bed. The pictures you look back on will be from holidays and special events. Why do we place such a high emphasis on work when we won’t give it a second thought at the end of our lives?

It’s time to change. Start talking and discussing strategies to make your workplace a more people centred, friendly place to work. Let your staff leave early just because. Let’s get these articles and research in the hands of the people we need to so YOU can reap the benefit.

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