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‘Binge Working’ Taking Toll on Employees [AUDIO]

In an effort to keep up, many employees in New Jersey and across the country are “binge working,” sleeping less and burning the midnight oil with caffeine-induced energy. It’s a practice that can be dangerous in the long run.

Joe Raedle, Getty Images

“It’s about trying to get more work done than one human being can really do. In college, students could pull an all-nighter because they goofed off for the whole semester and tried to make up the work in one night. Today, it’s people who simply can’t get their work done in eight or 10 or 12 hours and have to pump themselves full of caffeine to keep their jobs,” said Louis Maltby, president of the National Workrights Institute. “It’s not a good idea, but if the boss gives you a certain amount of work to do and you’re going to get fired if you don’t get it done, what choice do you have?”

What’s causing the trend?  It’s the job market according to Maltby. “The economy is doing relatively well. Corporate profits are going to the moon, but wages are stagnant. Unemployment is high and if you lose your job, it’s hard to get another one. People are afraid to lose their job. They’ll do anything to keep their job including working 12, 14 or more hours a day,” he said.

In the long run, a worker can become less productive by pulling caffeine-induced all-nighters night after night. It can also result in long unscheduled absences and health issues. In rare cases, workers have lost their lives as a result.

“It’s tough because while it’s dangerous to pump yourself with caffeine every night and work non-stop, if you don’t keep your job, you may not have a long run to think about,” Maltby said.  “If you work yourself until you can’t work anymore, the boss can just get rid of you and hire someone else.”

To some extent, workers are causing their own problems by staying connected to their smartphones around the clock. “The last thing you need to do when your boss is already overworking you is to carry your smartphone around so you can get e-mails from your boss at all hours of the night,” Maltby said.

What can employees do? Maltby said it’s worth assessing the situation. If employees aren’t being asked to work 14 hours a day, then they shouldn’t feel they have to.  In addition, most companies will give employees a warning before terminating them for not getting enough work done.

“If you’re not being told that your job is in jeopardy, then you are probably working more than hard enough,” Maltby said.

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