A global study by WHO found that overworked people or those working 55 or more hours per week are at 35% higher risk of a stroke and 17% higher risk of dying from heart disease than those working fewer hours a week.
The study also found that in 2016, around 488 million people were badly affected due to long working hours.
Karoshi returns but did it ever go away?
Back in the 1970s, a group of Japanese doctors found that stress from excessive work was causing multiple fatal diseases, including heart disease, stroke, asthma, and mental disorders leading to suicides. They termed it ‘karoshi’ or ‘death from overwork.’
In 2015, the suicide of a young woman, Matsuri Takahashi, sent shockwaves in Japan. In September 2016, the Labor Ministry recognized Matsuri’s death as a case of karoshi.
Thus, ‘karoshi’ is not a new phenomenon, but sadly, it persists, especially during this pandemic scenario. As per a research, in the U.S., people are working more than 40 hours a week. Even ILO (International Labour Organization) has stated that “Americans work 137 hours more than Japanese per year.”
All of this was at a time when people would still go to the office. Now, that has changed completely after the pandemic.
Back then, work from home or remote work was a perk, but now it is a fight for survival. A 2020 survey from online employment platform Monster has found that more than 69% of Americans are burned out from work from home-related stress and overwork.
But can we afford the ‘karoshi pandemic’ amidst the current one? It is time employers and organizations take urgent steps to prevent ‘deaths from overwork.”
Can employee appreciation gifts help in preventing karoshi?
Yes! There is hardly anyone whose face won’t light up on receiving a gift. While you will have to implement policies and programs to ensure there is no overwork or stress while working, you should also try to keep your remote employees motivated. Employee gifting ideas can play an important role in keeping the work atmosphere light and vent out some stress. Sending acknowledgment and approval through employee appreciation gifts can work as a huge morale booster for your employees and prevent karoshi situations in your workplace.
With Eva, you get a customized gifting plan as Eva uses a chatbot to know your employees’ interests and preferences and then suggests a gift. Eva is not about generic gifting but more about sending gifts that add value to the life of the person receiving it.
Here are some ways to ensure your employees gain at work and not lose their health and lives in the name of working:
Set fixed working hours
Pandemic or no pandemic, working 24×7 does not help anyone, neither the office nor the staff. Managers should lead by example and stop work when the shift ends. There have to be clear boundaries so people do not end up working even after office hours.
Work is work, whether it is working from the office or home, and thus, WFH workers need to ‘leave’ their home office at a scheduled time every day.
Set up small goals and reward them with employee appreciation gifts
Give your employees small and achievable daily goals that can be accomplished within a specified time. Encourage their hard work and acknowledge their enthusiasm at regular intervals. Think of personalized gifts such as a box of chocolates, a wine bottle, a toy for their pets, or a game for their children, etc.
Train them in time management techniques
Time management is a crucial skill to overcome overworking and overexerting the body. Encourage your employees to learn and practice it.
Luckily, there are umpteen online classes available to teach these life skills. You can sign up your employees for a time management class (some classes may just need a day or a few hours). Let your employees come together and attend the class. It will also turn into an occasion for the employees to meet and know each other.
If you align employee appreciation gifts with attending such classes, more people will be motivated to attend and gain from the guidance.
Try employee gifting to encourage and motivate
You can find many reasons to send your employees a gift once in a while. During this pandemic, receiving a gift for a job well done will help to release some of the stress and make them feel motivated.
Encourage problem identification
If there are any work-related issues or if a schedule or project is stressing out your employees, let them come to you with the problems and also the solutions they wish to see. Since not too many would like to point out the problems, you should devise ways to encourage them. For example, you can make it a competition and entice their involvement through some nice employee appreciation gifts!
Encourage time-off or short vacations
During the pandemic, people can’t go on a vacation outside the state or country, but if the local authorities are allowing beach or park visits, motivate your employees to visit. Even virtual tours can refresh weary souls.
Make regular communication a part of a workday
Managers can speak to their team members as and when they need or just chat with them casually to ask how they are doing or if they need any help. Do not impose any communication rules as it will add to the stress, but make it a part of the daily routine without much fuss.
While perks, bonuses, a pay hike, employee appreciation gifts, and a friendly workplace atmosphere can do a sea of good to reduce stress and prevent overwork, it is not a one-time process. Employers will have to devise ways regularly to keep the morale of employees high and spirited. You can also try the Eva employee gifting process to bring the smiles back on your employees and assure them you are there for them!