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How much working time is optimal for the psyche?
Many people are certainly of the opinion that they are completely overworked and that far too little money is paid for their work. In some ways, the latest research results even support this statement. According to a recent study, we should work a maximum of eight hours (one working day) a week to benefit most effectively from the psychological benefits of paid employment.
The latest study by the internationally recognized University of Cambridge found that people should only work eight hours a week at best in order to benefit optimally from the psychological benefits of the work. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "Social Science And Medicine".
Are eight hours of work a week optimal for us?
The study found that when people switch from unemployment (or education at home) to paid work eight hours or less a week, the risk of mental health problems is reduced by 30 percent. However, no evidence could be found that work of more than eight hours further increases well-being, the researchers explain in a press release.
Data from more than 70,000 people were evaluated
In their investigation, the sociologists set out to find a recommended optimal dosage of work. This is also against the background of increasing automation, which may require shorter working hours for everyone and a redistribution of work. The researchers used data from a so-called panel survey to investigate how changes in working hours between 2009 and 2018 in more than 70,000 UK residents are related to mental health and life satisfaction. To do this, they checked characteristics such as age, children, longstanding illnesses and household income.
How much paid work is required for health benefits?
There are effective dosage guidelines for almost everything, from vitamin C to the optimal amount of sleep. However, this was the first time that an optimal amount of paid work for wellbeing was sought. It is known that unemployment often affects people's well-being and has a negative impact on identity, status, time consumption and a sense of collective goals. The study gives an idea of how much paid work is required to achieve the psychosocial benefits of employment. The results of the study suggest that the most effective dose of work to promote mental well-being through paid work is only about a day a week.
Artificial intelligence and robotics will do a lot of the work for us
Supporting unemployed people with limited work has been the subject of numerous political discussions. Researchers believe that adult population employment should be maintained, but weekly hours worked should be drastically reduced so that work can be redistributed. In the next few decades, artificial intelligence and robotics will replace much of the paid work done by humans, the study's authors explain. If there isn't enough work for everyone who wants to work full-time, the current standards need to be reconsidered. This should include redistribution of working hours so that everyone can take advantage of the psychological benefits of a job, even if it means that we all work much less. The researchers proposed creative options for entering a future with limited working hours, including five-day weekends, just two hours of work a day, or an extension of annual vacation from weeks to months.
Not every job is good for mental health
Unemployment is bad for mental health and wellbeing. Having a job can be good for people's general wellbeing. Jobs with a low level of control, high demands and high complexity, job insecurity and unfair wages can be just as bad for a person's mental health as unemployment. If a general reduction in working hours is actually to be introduced at some point, caution should be exercised to ensure that working hours are reduced equally by all employees and that the psychosocial quality of the working environment is maintained. (as)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
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