An article on the BBC website caught my eye last week. Todd Buchholz, a former economic adviser at the White House has just written a book extolling the virtues of a stressful life.
The commentary surrounding his theory; "Why you need and love the rat race" was interesting, although rather polarised.
Now, I can't claim to have read the book (although I think I'll put it on my summer holiday reading list!), but it got me thinking that we might have changed the late 20th century adage of "greed is good", into "stress is good", as we've headed into the new millennium.
The topic of emotional health, and particularly work related stress, does excite some quite fervent debate. On the one hand you have people like Buchholz arguing you have to push yourself further and further in order to reach a true inner contentment, whereas on the flip side of the coin the proponents of the 35 hour week and protected lunch hours argue that this is the only way to avert psycho-social meltdown in the modern age.
At the risk of sounding "wishy-washy" I think there is probably a middle ground, and certainly one size doesn't fit all. I remember working as junior doctor in various hospitals in and around London in the early to mid-1990s. If we got away with working less than a hundred hours in a week we thought we were doing well. Now, two decades on and the doctors in training barely reach 45 hours before being forcibly removed from the hospital because of the risk of censure over European Working Time regulations. Neither of these scenarios is good.
You have to put in a certain amount of hours as a newly qualified doctor just so you can see and do things that are integral to gaining competency. You don't have to work 100+ hours to do this, but you probably do need to be on duty for slightly longer periods of time than a standard 9-5 working week. It seems that we "flip-flop" between the sublime and the ridiculous in this country and have difficulty actually settling on appropriate middle ground.
The same could be said for other areas of the workplace in the UK. We know that work is good for mental health. Having a job and being in employment yields tremendous psychological benefits, when compared with being out of work. We also know that work that allows individuals a degree of control over how, what and when their complete their assigned tasks provide even greater health benefits.
We need to focus more of our attention on the quality of the roles we provide, rather than the somewhat simplistic how long are we expecting our employees to spend at work. By doing so I believe that we will not only have a less stressed workforce, but also a more productive and more competitive one also.
2 comments on this article
MA Business & Leisure Limited © Copyright 2013, All Rights Reserved
Send to a friend