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Why That Job May, In Fact, Be The Death Of You

Katie Park / NPR

If your job feels kind of terrible, NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health have a possible explanation. Their recent survey of 1,601 workers revealed that 43 percent of working adults think their jobs negatively effect their stress levels, and a whopping 85 percent think their employers aren’t doing enough to change that. Having someone at Harvard finally care about your well-being is nice, but it would be nicer if your boss did, too. For starters, about two-thirds of participants reported working overtime or on the weekends. While on the job, 28 percent of people reported that work negatively effected their eating habits, 27 percent said the same for their sleeping habits, and 22 percent blamed it for their weight. About one-in-4 subjects said their work did either a fair or poor job at creating a healthy environment; 4-in-10 were unhappy with the lack of healthy food and exercise opportunities available. And all the annoying half-marathon-types wondered what the hell they had to do to get a standing desk around here?

Even as paid leave slowly (tortuously) becomes a reality in this country, the survey revealed the real challenge might be getting people to take it. Less than half of people reported using all of their vacation days, and most people who did said they worked on vacation anyways. Only 16 percent of workers used all their paid sick days last year, 6 percent used most, 45 percent used some, and 32 percent took no sick days at all. Half of restaurant workers and more than half of people in the medical industry said they still go to work when they have a cold or the flu, which is just awesome for the rest of us.

The real issue comes down to why you might be working against your own well being. Overall, 56 percent of people reported working more than 50 hours a week because “it’s important for their career to work longer hours.” Twenty percent of people who did not take sick days said it was because their workload made it too hard to take them. But seeing that stress has been linked to 6 leading causes of death puts things into perspective: better a groaning inbox than a groaning you.