New research from the Universities of Cambridge and Salford has found that one day a week of paid employment brought optimal mental health gains to people, and more work time didn’t bring bigger health benefits.
Before you rush this over to the HR department to change the workweek, read the details below. But stay with us: This news might still be very useful to you.
The catch: This study was in people who moved from unemployment or stay-at-home parenting to employment. In people who made that move, the risk of mental health problems dropped by an average of 30 percent if they worked for about eight hours. “Anything more makes little difference,” according to the study.
The researchers went on to make a point about how in the future, work could theoretically be redistributed based on this. With robots, Big Data, and AI in the mix they’re thinking about how everyone can get the mental health benefits of work when there’s less work to go around. Of course, there’s a whole host of things that would need to be ironed out first (uh, money?).
But here’s why this study is great: It brings up the question of how much work is or isn’t working for you. Even Japan, a place notorious for its intense work ethic, is starting to talk about it, via the buzz about a new show called “I Will Not Work Overtime, Period!,” in which the main character dares to leave work at 6 PM every day.
Think about what work is doing for you, and think about what it’s doing to you. Paid work provides mental health benefits, but so do paid mental health days (get Dan Harris’ advice on why you need to take one). If the thought of a one-day-workweek gave you more of a rush than you expected, find out how to recognize burnout, and take action sooner rather than later.
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