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The Effects & Symptoms Of Overwork On Employee Health

7 min read
Last Updated on 10 August, 2022

In today's corporate space, every employer wants their workers to go the "extra mile." It means going above and beyond the usual workload to achieve greater results. This overwork culture is mainly due to the extremely competitive market, which requires businesses to work 24x7.

While you may think that this work culture is typical in the current day and age, but it isn't. The overwork culture, as such, is more harmful than fruitful. It affects workers' physical and mental health, leading to absenteeism and a drop in productivity.

In this article, we’ll discuss more the effects of overwork on employees' health and how to deal with it.

What Does Overwork Look Like?

Managing or leading an organization requires you to motivate your employees to work harder and better, but the key is to understand the difference between hard work and overworking. Hard work leads to productivity while overworking leads to burnout. At work, there is a certain amount of stress, but when it becomes chronic, it is dangerous for your employees' health.

Maintaining the health and well-being of your employees begins with recognizing overworked employees. Balance is the key to good management. If your employees are overworking, it indicates they are under stress, perhaps due to infeasible workloads or poor management. Thus, keeping an eye on your employees can be the first step toward preventing burnout. Here are a few ways you can spot overworked employees in your workplace -

  • Employees lacking the motivation to work

  • Employees seem unengaged or no longer find joy in their work.

  • Decrease in job satisfaction

  • Employee burnout

  • Cynical toward their job

  • Low on energy or mental exhaustion

  • Reduced professional efficacy

  • Increase in employee absenteeism

The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies burnout as an occupational phenomenon characterized by chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.

Workplace Symptoms Of Overworked Employees

The modern business world is so obsessed with output; that they may unknowingly promote this behavioral trait of overworking. Overwork can have detrimental effects on your employees, so it is crucial to know when they are at risk. It will help you monitor the situation and give those workers a mental day off.

Here are some of the mental and physical symptoms of workers in overwork to help you ascertain this.

  • Lack of energy to do anything

  • Trouble sleeping

  • A weak immune system

  • Being in a constant bad mood

  • Gaining weight

  • Improper work-life balance

  • Easily irritable, etc

  • Unstable mood and mind

  • Deteriorating health

These were a few of the symptoms of employees suffering from overwork. If you encounter any of these symptoms in your workforce, you must act immediately.

This is just the tip of the iceberg in this case. Overwork has many adverse effects on employees. Here are a few of these adverse effects showing that you should stop overworking your workers immediately.

According to the WHO study, overwork is the single largest risk factor for occupational disease and has significant impacts on physical and mental health.

The Effects Of Overwork On Employee Health

1. Bad For The Heart

Working at a stretch for long hours increases the blood pressure of individuals. Consistent work behavior, as such, can lead to heart diseases in the future. It can lead to cardiac arrest, heart attacks, angina, etc.

Constant work also limits any physical exercise, which adds to more heart problems as well. In this regard, the risk of heart diseases is even more for people working overtime.

Related Article: 42 Office Exercises You Can Do At Your Desk To Stay Fit

2. Sleep Deprivation

Being at work, non-stop can also lead to sleep deprivation. It is mainly because of workplace stress and constant staring at the PC screen. An irregular sleep schedule, being a result of this, can affect the workers' mental health to a vast extent.

Sleep deprivation has adverse effects on the hippocampus. Hippocampus is the area of the brain for memory creation and consolidation. As such, an impact on the brain can make it hard to remember information and function well in the workplace.

3. Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes is one of the most common forms of illness in many adults today. It is why diabetes is also one of the ordinary office workers’ health problems. In this regard, overworking the workers with type-2 diabetes is very dangerous.

With constant work, the kidneys also go in overtime to remove excess glucose from the blood. This overtime often results in exhaustion of the kidneys, which negatively affects workers with type-2 diabetes.

In recent years, doctors believe that overworking can also give rise to diabetes. It is because extra weight, inactive lifestyle can trigger diabetes, and with constant work, these two conditions are pretty standard.

4. Burnout

Putting in long hours of work at a stretch can also lead to employee burnout. Burnout is a state of emotional exhaustion which results in helplessness, disillusion, and complete mental shut down.

It can further negatively impact one's personal life and bring about isolation from other people. Burnout can also cause anhedonia, which results in loss of pleasure from one's beloved activities. Effects, as such, harms mental health to a vast extent.

5. Workplace Depression

A study by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine states that overwork can give rise to depression. It is entirely understandable as overworking has all the signs leading to workplace depression.

The lack of work-life balance, constant stress, over-indulge in work can all give rise to depression. This depression affects mental health, rendering one feeling sad all the time, and being lonely most of the time.

6. Harms Work-life Balance

One of the classic effects of overworking is having a poor work-life balance. Maintaining a healthy balance as such between professional and personal life is very important. It helps with productivity, sanity, fewer mental health problems, etc.

Failure to maintain this balance has workers feeling over-exhaustion, lousy mood, and a lack of motivation to perform best.

7. Prone To More Mistakes At work

Working long hours also drains the mind's ability to work well. It results in workers making more mistakes in the workplace, affecting both performance and confidence. It adversely affects your operational efficiency and can do more harm than actual work.

8. Psychiatric Disorders

Recent studies also show that employees who overwork are more likely to develop psychiatric disorders. They are more at risk of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

These conditions arise mainly due to constant stress and anxiety with working around the clock. It affects the mental and emotional stability of workers as well.

Related Article: 15 Emotional Wellness Activities To Practice In The Workplace

9. Physical Effects

One of the most evident effects of overwork is a bad posture for workers. While working continuously, workers lose track of their stance subconsciously. It results in neck pain for most women and lower back pain for men at the workplace.

These are just some of the harmful effects of overworking for employees.

How Do You Handle Overworked Employees?

Overwork leads to chronic stress, which further leads to burnout and mental exhaustion, degrading both employees' health and productivity. To attain a healthy work-life balance, identifying the difference between hardworking employees and overworked employees is the first step. Here are some tips you can implement at work to reduce overwork and keep your employees healthy -

Encourage your employees to take some time off

When employees are overwhelmed with work, taking time off apart from lunch should be encouraged. A simple walk or a conversation with fellow employees can help you practice it. As a leader, you can lead by example by taking a few breaks in between so that your employees will not feel guilty about taking a break.

Promote cross-training among employees at work

Hold mock-up sessions or seminars to promote the importance of cross-training at work. Training across departments isn't overwork, it's more of a way to share the responsibility among the employees, this allows them to take a break or enjoy a vacation without having to worry about work. Furthermore, the employees can begin work fresh without worrying about the mountain of work they still need to accomplish. Employees who are cross-trained can be filled in and the workload can be reduced.

Encouraging professional development

You can promote the professional development of your employees at work by showing employees that their hard work will pay off in the long run. Build a work culture where they are supported in their career growth and where their hard work is being recognized. It will further boost motivation and job satisfaction.

If you are looking for ways to address overwork effectively, PrideStaff can design an intelligent, cost-effective solution to help you get your work done – while keeping your best employees happy and working at their peak.

Appreciating your employees

Appreciating your employees for their work is the key to creating a positive work culture that leads to more loyal employees and better productivity. If your employees are working post extra hours for special projects or trying to fill in some shoes to meet the targets, you can show your gratitude or appreciation to them by either reward or company benefits which will make them feel recognized and valued. It further improves employee engagement and retention.

Increase or decrease the number of employees

The cost of increasing headcount may be high, but it can save money in the long run. You may need to hire if long days, weekend work, or excess hours become a regular part of your work culture which again has a negative impact on your employee's health. By hiring temporary or contract employees to pick up the slack, you can reduce the risk of overstaffing. By hiring temporary or contract employees, you can boost productivity without risk.

Download our complete and comprehensive guide to corporate wellness programs to create an effective one for your workforce.


As an employer, it is perfectly normal to get the most and best out of your workers. After all, this is what will bring you success as a group. But, you need to be careful that this maximized output doesn't come at the cost of your employee health.

A worker's health is one of the prime obligations for a 21st-century employer. Therefore, you must abide by the best practices and do what is best for your company and its workers.

This article is written by Jyoti Prakash Barman. He is an in-house Content Marketer at Vantage Fit with interests in music and automobiles. For any related queries, contact editor@vantagecircle.com

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