Hong Kong is notorious for having one of the longest working hours in the world. A recent Federation of Hong Kong and Kowloon Labour Unions survey revealed that more than 60% of respondents work an average of 44 hours a week while 35% work over 50 hours a week. Shockingly, almost 5% clock in around 75 hours a week. Long working hours such as these are bound to have an impact on a person’s mental and physical health.
We look at how Hong Kong’s long working hours may affect your health in this Pacific Prime CXA article.
You’re not getting enough exercise
Whether working in an office or at home, many people in HK spend the majority of their day sitting in front of a screen - and don’t get enough exercise as a result. We all know how hard it can be to motivate ourselves to workout after hours at work. Long working hours in Hong Kong could be a reason behind the shocking 49.5% of people living in the SAR who don’t meet the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) guidelines on physical activity.
According to a University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Programme poll, almost half of HK residents don’t get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity every week. To avoid being part of that statistic, sign up for an exercise class or head to one of the city’s sports centres. Whether it’s practising yoga or getting sweaty doing CrossFit, the goal is to find a sport that you actually enjoy so it’s easy to keep up.
You have an unhealthy diet
Many Hong Kongers prefer eating out to cooking at home. Unless you make healthy food choices, you may not be getting the nutrition your body needs. Potential weight gain aside, an unhealthy diet can cause a range of issues, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and more.
If you don’t want to cook your own meals, or simply can’t find the time, at least opt for healthier foods outside. Also, avoid skipping meals. It’s good to keep some healthy snacks on hand in case you have to push your lunch break back a bit. Think nuts, seeds, trail mix, veggies/fruits or even hard-boiled eggs.
You don’t get adequate rest
Another one of working long hours effects is not having enough time to get proper sleep. Once you’re done with the work day, you might have to take care of family or want to maintain your social life. But anything else you have to do outside of work cuts back on time for yourself, so be sure to give yourself space to rest, recharge and reset.
Along with the effects of long working hours on productivity, lack of adequate sleep over the long term can lead to difficulty concentrating, fatigue and exhaustion, as well as many other serious health issues. The good news is that the solution is simple: get more rest. The average adult needs 7 or more hours of sleep per night. And remember, power naps are your friend.
You’re stressed out or on the verge of burnout
From mounting piles of work and looming deadlines to concerns about job security, there are many factors that can make work stressful. On top of that, the COVID-19 pandemic has added even more stress to our lives. According to a Mental Health Association of Hong Kong survey, nearly 9 in 10 Hong Kong employees suffered from work stress during the pandemic.
Stress is one of the negative effects of overworking since many people aren’t able to shut off and unwind after a long working day. Poor work-life balance is another effect of working long hours, and impacts mental and physical health. Over time, stress can cause issues like headaches, migraines, sleeping problems, mental health disorders and serious health conditions (e.g. diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, etc.).
You could be increasing your risk of developing serious health conditions
Inadequate rest, lack of physical activity and high stress levels can all increase your chances of developing more serious health issues down the line. A WHO study found that people who work 55 hours or more a week have a 35% higher risk of a stroke. Similarly, long working hours also increase the risk of coronary heart disease.
Even though Hong Kong’s notoriously long working hours are internationally known, the detrimental impact it has on individuals is barely discussed. Studies like the one conducted by the Federation of Hong Kong and Kowloon Labour Unions aim to call on the government to address such issues.
In the meantime, it’s important to prioritise your mental and physical health for optimal well-being. If you’re experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, speak to a medical professional to make sure everything’s okay.
Reach out to Pacific Prime CXA
These days, employees expect a company health insurance plan. But what can really make a difference to your workforce’s well-being is an employee benefits plan. Plus, robust employee benefits plans can also help attract and retain employees in the increasingly competitive job market.
From flexible benefits and employee wellness programs to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) training and more, Pacific Prime CXA can help you design, implement, administer and optimise your employee benefits using state-of-the-art technology. Contact our team of experts to find out more!