Two years ago, a Goldman Sachs summer intern was found unconscious in the shower after working a grueling 72-hour shift at the company’s London office. Excessive sleep deprivation, caused by a pattern of all-nighters at the bank, led to an epileptic seizure that took the young intern’s life.
This tragedy caused Goldman Sachs – a bank with a reputation for rigorous internship programs – to reconsider its work policies for interns. Ultimately, the company announced that no intern would be allowed to work more than 17 hours a day. While this may have been an improvement, 17-hour days are excessive for anyone, especially a young intern.
Unfortunately, for many companies in the U.S., such a punishing schedule is not unusual. The average American workweek has expanded from 40 hours a week to 47 hours – nearly an extra full day of work. Given this statistic, it’s no surprise that 40% of workers feel overworked to the point of leaving their jobs, according to Staples’ 2015 Workplace Index. Many of those surveyed expressed a desire that their workload would be lessened so they could experience relief from burnout.
An excessive workload is not the only factor causing employee burnout. Inflexible, demanding companies that push employees to perform without offering them proportionate opportunities for growth also cause it. According to the Workplace Index, employees were more motivated to work hard when their employer was flexible and understanding. And when employers offered employees the chance to grow and achieve, employees were happier and more motivated in their jobs.
Employee burnout is a phenomenon that harms not just workers and their families, but companies as well. It’s in every employer’s best interest to balance employee workloads and offer equitable opportunities for each worker.
If you’re an employee who is suffering from burnout, speak to your employer about the pressure you’re feeling. You deserve to be treated fairly, and that should never mean a week of 17-hour days.
Overworked and Overdue
Have your commissions and bonuses gone unpaid? What about overtime claims? Has your employer overstepped the bounds of your employment contract? You have legal rights. To review them, call employment lawyer Andy Arnold at 864.242.4800.