by Robert Wilkinson
While I know it seems like a no-brainer that working yourself to death makes a person unhappy (and maybe depressed – do you think?), it surprises me how many are in that situation these days. An on-going poll tells the story…..
Courtesy of a story at MSNBC and Today.com, we see research reporting that “People who worked more than 11 hours a day were more than twice as likely to be depressed than their co-workers who put in an 8-hour day.” They attached an insta-poll to the story, allowing people to vote in one of 5 categories to the question “Are you working more than 11 hours a day?” The results so far are fairly depressing for what they reveal about the 10,000 who have voted so far.
I realize this is not scientific, since those voting include only people with a computer who visit msnbc AND choose to read this story and vote. Also, there are other possible ways to break it down, such as those who work 8-11 hours, or those who work fewer hours who are still depressed over their working conditions (or lack thereof). But without being overweighted with considerations about what wasn’t asked, I figured these numbers were interesting in and of themselves, and say a lot about American working life.
I picked up the thread at 8000 votes, and monitored the results every so often. They seem to track consistently, which could mean the population coming to that article is fairly consistent, or fairly narrow. Here are the numbers to the question “Are you working more than 11 hours a day?”
At 8030 votes:
Yes, and I feel depressed. - 36.6% (2,941 votes)
Yes, but I don't feel depressed - 30.7% (2,468 votes)
No, I put in 8 hours and I like my work-life balance - 15.6% (1,255 votes)
No, but my job still depresses me - 12.6% (1,013 votes)
I just wish I had a job. - 4.4% (353 votes)
At 9078 votes:
Yes, and I feel depressed. - 36.7% (3,328 votes)
Yes, but I don't feel depressed – 31% (2,816 votes)
No, I put in 8 hours and I like my work-life balance - 15% (1,361 votes)
No, but my job still depresses me - 12.6% (1,148 votes)
I just wish I had a job. - 4.7% (425 votes)
At 10,098 votes:
Yes, and I feel depressed. - 36.7% (3,709 votes)
Yes, but I don't feel depressed – 31.4% (3,166 votes)
No, I put in 8 hours and I like my work-life balance – 14.6% (1,473 votes)
No, but my job still depresses me - 12.4% (1,257 votes)
I just wish I had a job. - 4.9% (493 votes)
Here are a few insights about these numbers:
Over time the first group held reasonably steady as a clear majority. Lots of people out there working at least 11 hours a day and feel depressed.
The number of respondents in the second group grew over time. It’s the next largest, and implies that this is somewhat of a balanced sample within its parameters, since the growth in this group over time evens out the difference between those who are depressed and those who are not depressed.
The rapid shrinking of the third group over time would seem to imply that those of us who work full time and are reasonably happy with the balance between our work and our lives are fewer than we think. Its total now is less than half of either group of those who work 11+ hours a day.
The fact that both “No” groups together do not add up to anything close to either “Yes” group clearly indicates that many more are working 11+ hours than less, whether depressed or not.
In the sample of 10K+ votes, the “Yes” groups add up to 68.1%, while the “No” groups add up to 27%. That means over 2/3 of the people who read and answered this poll are working over 11+ hours a day.
The fourth group held reasonably steady percentages, and shows a group that is not overworked, but is depressed. It could be their jobs are unfulfilling, or meaningless, or a grind without consuming half the day. Or they could just be “depressed” personalities for whatever reason. (I personally believe that most depression could be lessened through regular meditation and a few diet changes, but that’s another topic for another article.)
The numbers for the last group are a real drag. They grew over time, implying that a larger number of unemployed found their way to the article over time. These are people with computers and internet but have no work. 5% actually said they have no job. The total number of unemployed must be huge, since this sample excludes those with no home, no computer, no electricity, or no internet. Also those in shelters, under bridges, in public parks, or living in cars. This 5% are computer literate, have access to internet, like to read the news, and are willing to take the time to answer spot polls.
So consider this quick snapshot from The Twilight Zone as food for thought of an America entering a widespread, long term depression. Clearly we need to find ways to de-stress, find new patterns of enjoying our lives and time here on Earth, and remember what really matters. From these numbers, it’s obvious that not only is work not everything, it could be the source of difficulty, especially if there isn’t a balance between work, play, family, and personal spiritual maintenance.
© Copyright 2012 Robert Wilkinson